Two Axes of Subordination: A New Model of Racial Position

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Abstract

Theories of race relations have been shaped by the concept of a racial hierarchy along which Whites are the most advantaged and African Americans the most disadvantaged. However, the recent precipitated growth of Latinos and Asian Americans in the United States underscores the need for a framework that integrates more groups. The current work proposes that racial and ethnic minority groups are disadvantaged along 2 distinct dimensions of perceived inferiority and perceived cultural foreignness, such that the 4 largest groups in the United States are located in 4 discrete quadrants: Whites are perceived and treated as superior and American; African Americans as inferior and relatively American compared with Latinos and Asian Americans; Latinos as inferior and foreign; and Asian Americans as foreign and relatively superior compared to African Americans and Latinos. Support for this Racial Position Model is first obtained from targets’ perspectives. Different groups experience distinct patterns of racial prejudice that are predicted by their 2-dimensional group positions (Studies 1 and 2). From perceivers’ perspectives, these group positions are reflected in the content of racial stereotypes (Study 3), and are well-known and consensually recognized (Study 4). Implications of this new model for studying contemporary race relations (e.g., prejudice, threat, and interminority dynamics) are discussed.

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