Research on white Americans in political science has historically concentrated on racial prejudice, but a Duke professor is shifting the focus to white racial identity.
Ashley Jardina, assistant professor of political science, provides a new perspective on race and racial attitudes in American politics in her book “White Identity Politics.” Released Feb. 28, the book highlights the significance of white racial solidarity, in addition to white racial prejudice, for understanding how whites with strong racial identities approach politics.
“Now, there are two forces in American politics with respect to white racial attitudes that really matter,” Jardina said. “One is in fact racial prejudice; we know that racial prejudice still really informs a lot of white people’s political preferences. But the second is also, independently, this desire that whites have to try to preserve their group’s privileged status.”
Jardina said that whites have begun to show these patterns since the 2000s, motivated by accumulated threats to their racial privilege. To examine these trends, she analyzed survey data from the American National Election Studies and from her own research.
She pointed to a couple of factors that have made white identity salient in recent years.
One factor motivating the trend Jardina found in white identity is immigration and the consequent demographic shifts in the United States, she explained. By the middle of this century, whites are projected to no longer be the majority in the nation’s…