A Matter of Principle? On the Relationship Between Racial Resentment and Ideology
Though most scholars of race and politics agree that old-fashioned racism largely gave way to a new symbolic form of racism over the course of the last half century, there is still disagreement about how to best empirically capture this new form of racism. Racial resentment, perhaps the most popular operationalization of symbolic racism, has been criticized for its overlap with liberal-conservative ideology. Critics argue that racially prejudiced responses to the items that compose the racial resentment scale are observationally equivalent to the responses that conservatives would provide. In this manuscript, I examine the racial resentment scale for differential item functioning (DIF) by level of adherence to ideological principles using the 1992, 2004, and 2016 American National Election Studies. I find that responses to some of the racial resentment items are, indeed, affected by ideology. However, the problem is largely confined to 2016 and more egregious with respect to ideological self-identifications than adherence to ideological principles. Moreover, even after correcting for DIF, the racial resentment scale serves as a strong predictor of attitudes about racial issues.
KeywordsRace Racial resentment Symbolic racism Ideology Conflicted conservatism
I would like to thank Miles Armaly, Jamil Scott, Paul Sniderman, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, critiques, and suggestions. All errors are my own.
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