Michael Dawson, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago
- When: May 30, 2012, 12 pm
- Where: Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Dr., 4th Floor, Chicago, IL 60611
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Michael C. Dawson is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago and the founding and current Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the university.
"Trayvon Martin, Katrina, and the Implications of the Vast Racial
Divide in Public Opinion for American Civic and Political Life."
Michael C. Dawson
Public opinion within the United States remains segmented along racial lines despite the often heard argument that we live in a "post-racial" society. While the racial divisions in public opinion are fairly fluid--particularly with respect to Asians and Latinos--on a wide range of issues blacks and whites anchor are found on opposite sides of the political spectrum. Indeed, the gap between blacks and whites are often so large that multivariate analysis shows that other factors such as class, educations, party identification, region, gender and ideology are swamped when included in the same analysis with the race of the respondent. These factors only become measurable when we look at within-group variation thus eliminating the factor of race from the analysis. More important for the functioning of American democracy, it is clear that the differences between the majority of blacks and whites are so vast that each group has developed fundamentally different and racialized world views. Indeed, these world views are so incommensurate that the grounds for rational discourse in a democratic society that Habermas describes are fundamentally undermined. These racial cleavages in public opinion in domains such as the relationship between patriotism and protest, the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and the aftermath of Katrina do not bode well for American democracy in arenas ranging from public discourse to jury deliberations.
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