Final: Discrimination: The relationship between Racism and Classism

This topic submitted by J. A. Danielewicz, G.Schindehutte, A. Dudley ( ) on 4/30/04. [ Human Nature Team: J. A. Danielewicz, G.Schindehutte, A. Dudley-Section: Blaisdell/McPhail]


The purpose of our project is to test whether there is an order of selectivity within American society, between two choices: race-based or class-based discrimination. We will compare the two in various arrangements to determine the ethos of discrimination. Caucasian and African American students at Miami University’s Oxford, Middletown, and Hamilton campuses will serve as our sample group.
We will focus on three types of racism for our introduction: institutional, cultural and individual/symbolic. Institutional racism ranges from what Smith describe as a system where benefits are given to white, solely for being white (31), to Stokely Carmichael, description example of:

"When white terrorists bomb a black church and kill five black children, that is an act of individual racism, widely deplored by most segment of the society. But when in that same city - Birmingham, Alabama – five hundred black babies die each year because of the lack of proper food, shelter and medical facilities, and thousand more destroyed and maimed physically, emotionally and intellectually because of conditions of poverty and discrimination in the black community, that is a function of institutional racism" (Carmichael and Hamilton).

Cultural racism grew out of the need for a new social order, one where biological racism was more and more difficult to accept, given the changing political climate. Inspired in part by the works of sociologist Max Weber, cultural racism grew, with characteristics including a paradoxical dogma that: 1) that Europeans are not biologically superior to other groups; and 2) that economics can bring non-Europeans to the same level as Europeans (this is especially significant because a significant cultural changes are viewed as having begun in Europe and then disseminated throughout the globe; but the ability of innovation is not tied to a specific region, per se) (Blaut). Further, cultural racism can stem from our innate desire to classify items. Devine’s thought is an example: “Many classic and contemporary theorists have suggested that prejudice is an inevitable consequence of ordinary categorization (stereotyping) processes” (5).
A recent article in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology stated that symbolic racism is:

"Negative feelings toward Blacks that Whites acquire early in life persist into adulthood but are expressed indirectly and symbolically, in terms of opposition to busing or resistance to preferential treatment, rather than directly or overtly, as in support for segregation" (Dovidio et al., 1997).

Michael Hughes distinguishes symbolic racism from traditional racism because of “prejudice not only in its content, but also because its source is presumably not the belief that blacks pose an economic, social or political threat to whites.” Hughes continues, stating, “Symbolic racism represents the belief by whites that blacks violate traditional U.S. values and thus do not deserve any special help” (45). One example of this can be seen in dismantling of affirmative action programs at American universities and colleges. It should be noted, that the above examples of racism are products of their time and by the limits and biases of individuals (although this does not condone any racist practices). As Roger Lancaster pointed out, when we look at the historical framework that has helped formed ideas on race, it was grounded in the best theory and science of its time (77). Further, there have always been class and ideological struggles that ran concurrent with trends in science, making it difficult to know “where ‘science’ ends and ‘ideology’ begins” (78). This is on the pit falls of human nature.
The Bell Curve is on possible example of such faulty scientific practices. Authored in 1994 by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the book received a large amount of publicity, because of the inferences it drew about IQ distribution in the general populous. According Howard Gardner, The Bell Curve authors argued that individuals with lower intelligence were prone to poverty, crime and other social pathologies. Gardner also said their argument amounted to “rhetorical brinkmanship” (8). But what was at the heart of the debate were not the findings, per se, of the book, but the implications that lower IQ was concentrated among minority groups. Lancaster argues that Herrnstein and Murray’s book can be traced to the larger academic environments they were produced in. He states: “Racist arguments in academic and institutional culture, no less than in popular culture, perpetually return to the biological determinism they require in order to exist, and these claims frequently take refuge in the more or less benign image of post-1970s sociobiology” (145).
Classism is held in place by a system of beliefs which rank people according to economic status, "breeding," job and level of education. The us/them dichotomies and types are similar to those of racism, but except for discriminating based on the color of a person’s skin, the discrimination occurs because of a person’s socioeconomic status. One important issue that is not often addressed is how one person’s socioeconomic status is distinguished from another’s. The Implicit Association Test, or IAT, is a tool developed by Anthony Greenwald at Washington University in order to discern differences in cognition that are not explicit – "hidden biases" (Greenwald) – and was first used by researchers at Harvard University. In the IAT, "associative strength between two concepts is assessed by combining a given target dimension with an associated attribute dimension" (Gawronski). For example, an individual could be asked to press "A" if the image (the target dimension) they view is an insect, and "5" if the image they see is of a flower. A second category – for instance, "good" versus "bad" words – is the attribute dimension, and is incorporated in "the combined trials" (Eye-Square).
Further, the participant is asked to press "A" if the stimulus is an insect or a "good" word. The response time, or latency, is recorded, which serves as an "indicator for a participant's idiosyncratic associative strength between the two concepts" (Gawronski). If "two categories in the combined trials" share "one response key" and are "evaluatively associated with each other" (example: images of flowers and "good" words), the "task is easier and therefore the ... response latency... is shorter than if the two categories are evaluatively incompatible" (Eye-Square). As one of the researchers at Harvard puts it, "when two things are repeatedly paired in our experience, we will respond quickly to their co-occurrence" (Banaji, in Lambert).

Discrimination based on class is more dominant in implicit association than discrimination based on race. Categories that effect results will be: Socioeconomic status, race, sex, age, political preference, and family income.

We believe that race is a culturally constructed conception, not so much in the distinguish-ability of skin color, but more in relation to dominant ideologies held by different races and economic status. The relevance of the research will illuminate the various degrees that (we believe) racism and classism are present in all individuals. Thoughts and readings from the Human Nature course will provide the relevant scientific background for understanding the issue.
Further, we believe that the link between race and class are so inter-mixed at Miami (and its satellite campuses) that it provides and an excellent (and unique) test-bed for research. To what degree are the relatively homogonous and upper-class members of the Miami community classist or racist? Which is their preference of discrimination and to what degree? With whom will they choose to associate with first?

This study will investigate the identification tendencies on a class and race bases. The myth of a classless America obscures the construction of racism as a means of economic exploitation, and instead shifts the cultural relevance to biological determinism. Outside research about attitudes toward affirmative action and comparable worth remedies when related to race will be included to indicate popular beliefs and the ingrained relationship between economics and racism. Our study and research will try and determine whether there is a clear connection between class and race identification and their influence on views about these issues.

Our research will explore how discrimination has been manifested in attitudes about race and class through organizations, institutions and the development of American society.

We will be collecting statistical data (using surveys and an Implicit Association Test), in order to determine the frequency of race-based versus class-bases discrimination.

Is racism a secondary construction of discrimination that was used to justify economic exploitation and would it therefore eradicated in a classless society?

Our project deals with various social science fields, but primarily sociology, psychology, philosophy. Further, practical statistical analysis and demographic information were applied to project, in the form of Stat-View and information from the 2000 U.S. Census Bureau. Computer programming skills were applied when we created our version of the Implicit Association Test. Additionally, many of our social science references include Experimental Psychology, Journal of Counseling & Development, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
If we were to draw from the Miami University Bulletin, the interdisciplinary aspects of our project would be truly illuminated, including departments such as American Studies, Black World Studies, Computer Science and Systems Analysis, Interdisciplinary Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Statistics, among others

We will collect data through a two-fold process:

1. Survey
a. Biographical data
2. Implicit Association test

We collected our data through a combination of paper-based survey and computer-based IAT tasks, carried out on Miami students at Hamilton, Middletown and Oxford campuses.
The survey asked a range of demographic information, including age, race, educational background, sex, social class, household income, zip code, and political ideology. The survey was based upon the format used by U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 short and long survey questionaire (Census). We collected more information that was ultimately needed, becasue it was prudent to gather too much data and then slim it down for review. An example includes the U.S. zip code. We collected the participant’s home zip code, and if needed, we could have used demographic sources for the local communities as an objective indicator of socioeconomic status (i.e. many companies actively discriminate publications based upon a zip code and the wealth of its inhabitants). A copy of the survey is attached.
Once the subjects’ socioeconomic status and race were self-identified, they were assigned one of the versions of the IAT. The two tests were designed to have (as the two different groups of images) one that was the same socioeconomic status, but different race than the participant and one that was the different socioeconomic status, but same race as the participant (see “Dig Deeper” and Project Implicit). In other words: Lower socioeconomic status African Americans and upper socioeconomic status Caucasians took the IAT version with lower socioeconomic status Caucasians as one group and upper socioeconomic African Americans as the other group. Upper socioeconomic status African Americans and lower socioeconomic status Caucasians took the IAT version with lower socioeconomic status African Americans as one group and upper socioeconomic status Caucasians as the other group. Participants would therefore have either their socioeconomic status or their race in common with each group.
The computer-based IAT was intended to covertly reveal class and racial bias, and the relationship between them, in the subjects. The four target dimensions we used for description were images of: upper-class/African American; lower-class African American; upper-class/Caucasian; and lower-class/Caucasian. The two Attribute dimensions were "good" versus "bad," represented by a selection of words (including "hate," "war," and "love," etc.). The IAT had five different tasks and subjects were asked to respond as rapidly as possible without errors.
First, in order to familiarize the subject with the words used and the adequate response they are instructed to equate twenty different words that appeared on the screen to the appropriate description (i.e. Good or Bad). Participants are asked to respond to what is the social norm (i.e. “War is Bad,” “Love is Good”) with the acknowledgement that they are relative. If a mistake was made “Error” would appear and the test would continue. At the end of each section the percentage of correct answer and response time in milliseconds would appear on the screen.
The second task familiarized the participants with the images. Subjects were instructed to equate twenty different images to the appropriate definition (i.e. Lower-class/African American, Upper-class/African American, Lower-class Caucasian, Upper-class Caucasian.) The third and fifth task subjects performed a more complicated task in which the key assignments for one of the pairs (in this example, lower-class/Caucasian and good would now share a response, as well as lower-class/African American and bad).Then the key assignment is switched (i.e. lower-class/Caucasian and bad would now share a response, as well as lower-class/African American and good). The IAT measures reaction time derived from latencies of responses to these two tasks. These measures are interpreted in terms of association strengths by assuming that subjects respond more rapidly when the concept and attribute mapped onto the same response are strongly associated (e.g. lower-class/Caucasian and bad) than when they are weakly associated (e.g. upper-class/Caucasian and good).


The IAT test that we designed gave us two important sets of numbers. One is the response time for when one attribute is paired with one category and another attribute with the other category. The program gives us the information at 100% accuracy. The other set of numbers is when the attribution and categories are switched. A 1:1 ratio (same socioeconomic status/different race: same race/different socioeconomic status) of these sets would indicate equal strong associations between both assignments.
Average Ratio:
1:1.4 (speed in milliseconds) Indicating a moderately strong latency when good is paired with different socioeconomic status/same race. This does not however indicate the degree of classism of participants, only the degree to which one category takes dominance in implicit association.
African American: 1:1.42
Caucasian: 1:1.38
Lower-class: 1:1.37
(This numbers do not differ enough to indicate any significance between African American and Caucasian or Lower-class and Upper-class participants.

Income /.7563

Discussion and Conclusion:

A reinvestigation into racist behavior and ideology repeatedly suggests that racism is a means of economic exploitation. In order to oppress any group of people, there has to be a believe system that they are inferior or at the very least biologically different and that if they are therefore in curtain conditions, it is because of their own genetic design. In this analysis the categorization of race is relevant to the construction of class and therefore when one’s class and race is in opposition, class should take dominance.
If this research was taken beyond Miami, I think it would be important to readjust the two different races that are present as categories. For example, in San Diego California, it would be more prevalent to use Hispanics as one of the categories. Also, our age groups ranged only from 18-25 and from 25-40. It would be important to make the groups smaller, but have a wider range as well.

Post – Relevance

Our research relates to larger questions because of the history of race relations in the United States, post-civil rights movement. Even with the political gains and corrective legislative acts taken since the 1960s, racism is still a factor in the country. In Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era, Smith gives a chilling account of the changing poll rates of white supremacy to African Americans and the underlying reasons for such thoughts.
According to the National Opinion Research Center (whose has measure the periodically since 1942), the rate of black inferiority to whites has shifted from a high of 53% in 1942, to stabilizing around 25% in the post-civil rights environment (40). Further, Smith states:

For example, the Washington Post survey found that 23 percent of whites agreed that blacks had worse jobs, income, and housing than white because they have “less inborn ability to learn.” This attitude, like more racist stereotypes, tends to be anchored in the lower class. Jackman and Jackman, for example, found that 29 percent of poor white accepted a genetic explanation for the lower socioeconomic status of blacks, 19 percent of the middle class, and 17 percent of the upper middle class. It is probable that this hard-core racist minority will persist for some time and constitutes an important psychological barrier to interracial coalitions of black and working-class whites (40).

It is not a far reach to see why Lancaster stated that science is inextricably linked to the biases of the current day (77-78). Further, the link between lower socioeconomic statuses and racism might explain our results

Pre-Experiment Literature Review
Readings for diversity and social justice . Ed. Maurianne Adams et al.
New York: Routledge, 2000.

A collection of essays addressing racism, antisemitism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, and classism on the United States and possible ways to reduce them. Includes the essay “Toward a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection” by Patricia Hill Collins.

Berberoglu, Berch . Class structure and social transformation. Westport: Praeger, 1994.

An analysis and study of class structure as it relates to society and social transformation. The author suggests that a study of class structures should be central to the study of society and social relations. Also contains “a critical analysis of major theories of inequality, an analysis of class structure in different societies, and the relationship between class, race, and gender.”

Dijk , Teun A. van. Communicating Racism : Ethnic Prejudice in Thought and Talk.
Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1987.

This book is a revealing interdisciplinary study of ethnic prejudices and the ways in which they are diffused through interpersonal communication and intergroup interaction. In this clearly written and comprehensive study, van Dijk establishes a crucial link between the cognitive, social and communicative dimensions of racism. He examines: The social psychology of ethnic attitudes. The cognitive psychology of ethnic prejudice. The social context of prejudice. The interpersonal communication of racism.

Dijk, Teun A. van. Elite Discourse and Racism. Newbury Park: Sage Publications, 1993.

Studies racism through a “multidisciplinary discourse” approach, and shows “that elites play a primary role in the reproduction of ethnic dominance and racism” in popular culture, using it to maintain “the dominance of the majority ethnic group.” The author examines aspects of this in “politics, business, academia, education, and the media.”

Greenwald, Anthony G., Debbie E. McGhee, and Jordan L. K. Schwartz. "Measuring
Individual Differences in Implicit Cognition: The Implicit Association Test." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (6): 1464-1480.

These ethnographic essays by scholars in anthropology, law, political science, folklore, public administration, medicine, and linguistics show contemporary connections between liberal democracy and ethnography. Each perspective explores a modern democratic site--courts, classrooms, legislatures, the media, academic professions, and bureaucratic routines. Together, they expose a contradiction--that official constructions of identity treat "differences" as both natural characteristics of individuals and the collective basis of interest groups.

Social Stratification: Class, Race, and Gender in Sociological Perspective. Ed. David B.
Grusky. Boulder: Westview Press, 2001.

An examination of “stratification research” and aspects which impact social stratification. Includes chapters on the inevitability of social stratification and recent "experiments with destratification in Eastern Europe”; the possibility or presence of “class specific cultures” marked by differences in “styles of life, patterns of consumption, and attitudes toward work” across classes; and sources of “racial, ethnic, and gender inequality.”

Herrnstein, Richard J., and C. Murray. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure
in American Life. New York: The Free Press, 1994.

This books main focus is the justification for racism on the premise that African Americans are genetically inferior to whites and that therefore racism is natural.

Katz , Phyllis A., and Dalmas A. Taylor , ed. Eliminating Racism : Profiles in
Controversy. New York: Plenum Press, 1988.

The authors use Critical Discourse Analysis, a type of discourse in analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. With such dissident research, critical discourse analysts take explicit position, and thus want to understand, expose and ultimately to resist social inequality.

Robinson, Robert V. "Explaining Perceptions of Class and Racial Inequality in England
and the United States of America." The British Journal of Sociology 34 (3): 344-366.

Results from interviews with 113 adults in Connecticut and “101 age-matched persons in London, England” intended to test ideas “that people's perceptions of the extent of class and racial inequality in their society arise from their differential placement in the stratification system, their acceptance or rejection of dominant ideologies about inequality, their differential educational experiences, and the historical conditions prevailing when their attitudes were being formed.” Results indicate a greater perception of class and racial inequality amongst Americans than the English, although acknowledgement of inequality in both countries was rather low.

Tate, George A. "Structured Racism, Sexism, and Elitism: A Hound that ‘Sure Can Hunt’
(The Chronicity of Oppression)." Journal of Counseling & Development 77 (1): .

An examination of “structured racism, sexism, and elitism” in American society through the life experiences of the author and his work as a counselor and teacher of counselors, who examines the ways he himself “recreates, restructures, and rewrites” a long history of oppression.

Part I

Level of Education:
HS/GED- Some college- College degree- post-graduate degree

Male Female Transgender

18-25 25-40 40-60 60+ above

African American/Black
European American/White

Political Preference:

Socioeconomic status (maybe tweak):


0-10 G’s/10-30 G’s/30-50 G’s/50-70 G’s/70-100 G’s/
100-150 G’s/150-200 G’s/200-250 G’s/250 +

Zip code (you’ve had longest):

Works Cited

Blaut, James M. "The Theory of Cultural Racism." Antipode: A Radical
Journal of Geography 1992. 30 Apr 2004

Carmichael , Stokely , and Charles V. Hamilton . Black Power: The Politics of Liberation
in America . New York: Random House, 1967.

"Census Questionnaires (2000 and 1990)." 01 July 2003. U.S. Census Bureau. 30 Apr
2004. .

Devine, Patricia G. "Stereotypes and Prejudice: Their Automatic and
Controlled Components." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 56 (1): 5-18.

"Dig Deeper - Test Yourself for Hiden Bias." 30 Apr 2004.

Gardner, Howard. Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences. New York:
Basic Books, 1999.

Gawronski, Bertram. "What Does the Implicit Association Test Measure? A Test of the
Convergent and Discriminant Validity of Prejudice-Related IATs.” Experimental Psychology 49 (3): 171-180.

Greenwald, Anthony G., Debbie E. McGhee, and Jordan L. K. Schwartz. "Measuring
Individual Differences in Implicit Cognition: The Implicit Association Test." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74 (6): 1464-1480.

Hughes, Michael. "With Symbolic Racism, Old-Fashioned Racism, and Whites'
Opposition to Affirmative Action." Racial Attitudes in the 1990s:
Continuity and Change. Ed. Steven A. Tuch and Jack K. Martin. Westport,
CT: Praeger, 1997.

"Implicit Association Test." Eye Square GMBH. 30 Apr 2004.

Lambert, Craig. "Stealthy Attitudes." Harvard Magazine 104(6) July-August 2002. 30
Apr 2004 .

Project Implicit. IAT Corp. 30 Apr 2004. .

Smith, Robert Charles. Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era : Now You See
it, Now You Don't. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

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