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Spatialized Racial Progress Views:

The Influence of Economic Restructuring & Geography on Perceptions of American Racial Progress

Colorblind conservatism, intra-racial socioeconomic inequality, and varying reference points are three perspectives used to explain racial progress attitudes (Bonilla-Silva 2006, Spence 2012, Wilson 1987, Wodtke 2012, Dawson 1994, Hochschild, Weaver and Burch 2012, Eibach and Ehrlinger 2006, Telles and Ortiz 2008) These three theories fail to account for varying effects of economic restructuring at every level of  geographic segmentation. African-American and Latino homeownership rates, access to quality education, experiences of discrimination, and poverty levels vary by region, state, metropolitan area, and neighborhood (Barrera 1979, Karnig and McClain 1985, Pendergrass 2013, Iceland, Sharp and Timberlake 2013). Inter and intra-racial geographical differences in racial progress attitudes have yet to be addressed. Using the American National Election Survey (ANES) Time-Series Cumulative File with data from 1964 to 2012 and the Collaborative Multi-racial Post-Election Survey (CMPS) from 2008, 2012, and 2016 I examine the influence of contextual factors on racial progress attitudes, for African-Americans, Latinos, and Whites. Opinions on racial progress are measured using a series of survey questions related to racialized public policy, discrimination, and improvement in the social position of marginalized groups. I argue due to labor market shifts over the past three decades which facilitated a "Great Divergence" of American cities along economic and educational lines (Moretti 2012), racial progress attitudes have become more geographically differentiated overtime. Opinions are analyzed through a framework of uneven socioeconomic development and geographically distinguishable racial histories, which I call Spatialized Racial Progress Views theory.


Lorrie Frasure-Yokley PhD,
Associate Professor of Political Science, UCLA (Chair)


John Zaller PhD,

Professor of Political Science, UCLA


Matt A. Barreto PhD,

Professor of Political Science and Chicana/o Studies, UCLA


Devon Carbado JD,

The Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law, UCLA

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