Explicit and Hidden Racial Bias in the Framing of Social Problems

Kevin M. Drakulich
2015 Social problems  
Many contested issues in the American public and political spheres are rooted in fundamentally differing views of the scope, causes, and consequences of social problems. This is certainly true for two major interrelated social problems with racial implications: crime and labor market inequalities. In the era since the civil rights movement made the open expression of racial bias less socially acceptable, however, public and political discussions of social problems with racial implications are
more » ... implications are often framed in purportedly race-neutral ways (Bonilla-Silva 2010; Schuman et al. 1997) . Drawing on group position (Blumer 1958) and collective action framing (Benford and Snow 2000) perspectives and employing the 2008-2009 ANES Panel Study, the present work suggests an enduring influence of racial bias on the ways people understand these major social problems. In contrast to earlier eras, however, much of the contemporary role of racial bias is hidden. The current work employs an implicit measure of racial bias that is resistant to a social desirability bias (Payne et al. 2005) to reveal a more complete picture of the influence of racial bias on the way people perceive social problems-even among those who explicitly deny possessing such biases. Specifically, this work reveals roles for both explicit and implicit racial bias in the way non-Hispanic whites identify the severity of problems, attribute blame for problems, and are motivated to concern around particular issues. K E Y W O R D S : racial bias; perceptions of crime; perceptions of inequalities; collective action frames; implicit bias.
doi:10.1093/socpro/spu003 fatcat:pfe7wffzhvgf5cw33lubwuznge