If white Americans could reveal what they really think about race, without the risk of appearing racist, what would they say? In this elegantly written and innovative book, Paul Sniderman and Edward Carmines illuminate aspects of white Americans' thinking about the politics of race previously hidden from sight. And in a thoughtful follow-up analysis, they point the way toward public policies that could gain wide support and reduce the gap between black and white Americans.
Their discoveries will surprise pollsters and policymakers alike. The authors show that prejudice, although by no means gone, has lost its power to dominate the political thinking of white Americans. Concentrating on the new race-conscious agenda, they introduce a method of hidden measurement which reveals that liberals are just as angry over affirmative action as conservatives and that racial prejudice, while more common among conservatives, is more powerful in shaping the political thinking of liberals. They also find that the good will many whites express for blacks is not feigned but represents a genuine regard for blacks, which they will stand by even when given a perfectly acceptable excuse to respond negatively to blacks.
More crucially, Sniderman and Carmines show that the current impasse over race can be overcome if we remember what we once knew. The strongest arguments in behalf of equality for black Americans reach beyond race to the moral principles that give the issue of race itself a moral claim on us.
Sniderman and Carmines’s discussion of stratagems to trick poll respondents into revealing their real views about race…makes the book worthwhile. Moreover, their sense of American sentiment is very likely right. Most Americans do agree, intellectually at least, that people should be judged for themselves, not for their race.
[Paul Sniderman and Edward Carmines] have devised a novel polling experiment to test just how tolerant whites who express positive views of blacks really are. And they do it without tipping off respondents to what they’re doing. They’ve described their test—and other equally innovative experiments—in an important and controversial new book.
A fascinating analysis of white Americans’ attitudes on race, by two political scientists who argue strenuously…that our leaders would be more effective in forging multiracial consensus and coalition to improve social and economic access for all citizens if they appealed to ‘moral principles that reach beyond race.’
In this remarkable book, Paul M. Sniderman and Edward G. Carmines offer fresh insights into American attitudes toward race that challenge much conventional thinking about racial politics and policies. Building on these insights the authors develop a persuasive argument for a new coalition, based on widely-shared moral convictions, to address the mounting problems of America’s disadvantaged. At once a work of exceptional technical sophistication, passionate advocacy and writing elegance, Reaching beyond Race is a book that will help all Americans, not just social scientists, think more clearly about our most enduring social problem… Its lessons are powerful, its messages are clear and beautifully delivered, and its contributions to our national conversation about race could not have come at a more appropriate time.
This very important book adds a new dimension to the argument over affirmative action. The findings contradict the view that race prejudice is at bottom the reason for opposition to affirmative action, and do demonstrate a generosity in the American people that is not presently credited.
This book deals with issues of crucial importance to American society. It is not merely scholarly, but distinguished. That is to say, that it deals with an important subject of wide general interest, but with subtle and precise reasoning, and innovative but clear and convincing methods… The ingenuity of the ‘experiments’ with public opinion will delight the professional reader, while their clarity, appropriateness and convincingness will make the text accessible and persuasive to the more general reader… The great virtue of this book is the use of ingenious methods that are easy to understand. Instead of plumbing the depths of statistical obscurity they have the effect of making the reader feel: ‘yes, that is the obvious way to test that’; ‘why didn’t I think of that?’; or ‘why don’t other survey researchers do that?’ The ‘experiments’ as Sniderman and Carmines call them have that admirable but elusive quality of being ‘obvious, after the event’.
The authors are continuing efforts to bring a clearer, more rational understanding of the issue of race and politics in the United States. This book explores some of the salient contemporary perceptions and premises regarding the resilience of the racial divide and its effect on domestic policy and political discourse. Using various experiments that are designed to expand on or correct some of the difficulties of standard public opinion polls, the authors present their hypotheses and efforts to ground in evidence the tests used to more explicitly identify racial attitudes as they reflected in policy decisions and policy directions. The book goes beyond a mere reporting of the results of experiments, but use the findings to suggest how racial chasms can be overcome by arguments that can be used to garner support and less divisiveness for social policy development. There are findings that will be provocative to readers on all sides of political ideology arguments. The chapters on Affirmative Action and Color-Blind Politics are especially interesting and effectively presented, especially in light of today’s debate on these topics. This book fits into the literature of several fields: political science, policy sciences, sociology, social work, ethnic studies, and public affairs… The case is well presented and should advance debate not only among scholars, but politicians and policy advocates, also.
- 208 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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