Opposing Affirmative Action: The Social Psychology of Political Ideology and Racial Attitudes
57 Howard L. J. 1001 (2014)
32 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2017
Date Written: 2014
Affirmative action in higher education has been a contentious issue for almost forty years. Since about 1970, litigants have challenged such programs in undergraduate and professional schools. The problem is that the attack on affirmative action from the political Right has been shown, in social-psychological literature, to be predicted by racial attitudes. To elucidate this point, this Essay provides a backdrop to understanding racial attitudes among political conservatives in Part I. Part II contends that the way to think about racial bias on the political Right is at the automatic, implicit, and subconscious level. In doing so, Part II provides a framework for understanding implicit biases and how they originate. Part III discusses how implicit bias relates to political ideology. Part IV ties implicit racial attitudes to attitudes about affirmative action, specifically. This Essay concludes by underscoring that while the legal arguments made for why affirmative action in higher education should be held unlawful, based on constitutional ideals, what lies at the heart of the opposition is less about constitutional principles. Rather, the
opposition emerges from racial hostility.
Keywords: affirmative action, higher education, implicit bias
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