Identifier

etd-04202010-231414

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Political Science

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

The literature on racial attitudes and coalition formation has focused on Latinos and African Americans in the U.S. In this project, I present a theoretical framework exploring what whites, blacks and Latinos think of each other specifically examining perceptions of commonality, competition and stereotypes. The two major theories that I test are contact theory and the racial threat hypothesis. This project is unique in its comprehensive analysis of the precursors of coalition formation regarding African Americans, Latinos and whites and its adoption of quantitative and qualitative approaches to answer the main research questions. Moreover, very little research has explored the effects of contact and context on perceptions of commonality, competition and stereotypes among these three groups. The analysis includes five parts: exploring Latinos’ perceptions of commonality and competition with blacks and whites using national survey data; examining Latinos’ attitudes toward blacks and whites using focus groups in New Orleans, Louisiana; examining African Americans’ perceptions of closeness, competition and stereotypes of Latinos and whites using national survey data and focus groups; exploring whites’ perceptions of closeness, competition and stereotypes of Latinos and African Americans using national survey data; and examining whites’ attitudes toward Latinos and African Americans using focus groups in New Orleans. I find strong support for contact theory in explaining Latinos’, whites’ and blacks’ commonality with the other racial groups; yet I find that the racial threat hypothesis does a very good job in explaining Latinos’ competition with blacks. Nevertheless, I conclude that some Latinos, blacks and whites may not think in terms of race when considering what they have in common with other racial or ethnic groups. In addition, skin color significantly shapes Latinos’ attitudes toward blacks and whites. Dark-skinned Latinos have a greater predisposition to perceive commonality with blacks than light-skinned Latinos and light-skinned Latinos are more likely to perceive commonality with whites than Latinos with darker complexions. Regarding the implications of these results for the formation of future political coalitions, I suspect that Latinos and whites are more likely to form political coalitions than African Americans and Latinos.

Date

2010

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Garand, James C.

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