Support for redistributive policies among the African American middle class: Race and class effects

George Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Studies of the race/class bases of middle class African Americans' support for redistributive policies have failed to examine how they are generated as well as assess interaction effects. This study addresses these shortcomings: within the context of a theory of perceived group interest it assesses the additive and interactive effects of race and social class in explaining middle class African Americans' support for income-targeted and race-targeted redistributive policies. Findings from the 1992 and 1993 years of the National Election Study suggest that across both types of policies perceived alliances with both African Americans and the middle class help to explain the predominance of joint race/class effects and levels of policy support that are intermediate between the African American working and White middle classes. In addition, findings suggest that pronounced perceived racial group interest for race-targeted policy is one factor that accounts for the relatively strong race/class interaction effect and levels of support that are closer to the African American working class than is the case for income-targeted policy. The implications of the findings for interpreting key aspects of racial differences in levels of policy support such as whether maximum levels of polarization have been reached and the likelihood of racial differences increasing in the future are discussed. Finally, suggestions for future research concerning the dynamics surrounding race/class determinants of policy support are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-115
Number of pages19
JournalResearch in Social Stratification and Mobility
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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