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White Identity Politics

Award Winner

Part of Cambridge Studies in Public Opinion and Political Psychology

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108475525


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About the Authors
  • Amidst discontent over America's growing diversity, many white Americans now view the political world through the lens of a racial identity. Whiteness was once thought to be invisible because of whites' dominant position and ability to claim the mainstream, but today a large portion of whites actively identify with their racial group and support policies and candidates that they view as protecting whites' power and status. In White Identity Politics, Ashley Jardina offers a landmark analysis of emerging patterns of white identity and collective political behavior, drawing on sweeping data. Where past research on whites' racial attitudes emphasized out-group hostility, Jardina brings into focus the significance of in-group identity and favoritism. White Identity Politics shows that disaffected whites are not just found among the working class; they make up a broad proportion of the American public - with profound implications for political behavior and the future of racial conflict in America.

    • Develops a new theory of dominant group identity
    • Draws on open-ended and close-ended surveys, as well as observational and experimental data, to provide the first comprehensive empirical analysis of heightened white group consciousness in the United States
    • Shows that white racial identity is a lens through which many white Americans view the political world, explaining vote choice and opinion on a range of pressing contemporary political issues, from immigration to social spending
    • Challenges the conventional wisdom that the 'white working class' is uniquely driving white voting behavior
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    • Joint winner, 2020 Robert E. Lane Award for the best book in political psychology, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'For most of the period since the civil rights movement, the best scholarship has found that whites' identities as white people played little role in their racial politics, at least as compared to their resentments of blacks. Ashley Jardina's book has changed that. It provides us with the most thorough and convincing evidence of the continuing centrality of white identity in many whites' thinking about race in America.' David O. Sears, University of California, Los Angeles

    'For too long now, political scientists have tended to firewall the study of white Americans to the questions of whether out-group bias persists and, if so, whether it continues to bear the virulence of Jim Crow-style racism or manifests in new indirect, implicit strains. White Identity Politics is a breakthrough that invites us to rethink the roots of both white prejudice and white solidarity. This is an indelible and indispensable corrective that ought to be read by anyone bewildered by our current political moment.' Taeku Lee, University of California, Berkeley

    'White Identity Politics provides a timely and insightful look at American racial politics from the perspective of the white majority. Jardina argues that growing demographic diversity has politicized white identity, generating a sense of white deprivation and defense of white privilege that is distinct from racial animus. Many whites do not identify strongly with their racial group but those who do show clear favoritism for policies and political candidates who promote white interests and maintain white numerical supremacy. By shifting the focus away from white prejudice and toward the defense of white privilege, the book makes an invaluable contribution to the study of American race and ethnic relations.' Leonie Huddy, Stony Brook University, New York

    'The timing thus could not be better for Duke University political scientist Ashley Jardina's eye-opening book, White Identity Politics, which uses extensive survey research to explore the meaning of white identity today.' Richard D. Kahlenberg, Washington Monthly

    'The volume is a smart, well-researched text that uses empirical data to undergird the author's claims … An important book.' R. A. Harper, Choice

    'Excellent … an important contribution to our scholarly and societal knowledge of identity more broadly and to how we conceive of groups in contemporary society.' Samara Klar, The Journal of Politics

    'Let me cut right to the chase. Every scholar of public opinion, racial and ethnic politics, and political psychology in the United States should read and own this book. It will be pulled off the shelf and cited often. It will inspire.' Deborah J. Schildkraut, Public Opinion Quarterly

    'Jardina situates White solidarity as a construct that requires greater scrutiny and … [shows] White identity is not merely conservatism, working class ideology, nationalism, or racial prejudice. Instead it operates as a coherent and meaningful core attachment among members of the dominant racial group … A must read for all who endeavor to understand contemporary politics, public opinion, or social stratification in the United States.' David C. Wilson, Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

    'Jardina's research is carefully executed and there is no doubt that she has painstakingly attempted to proactively respond to potential criticisms … a must read for all who endeavor to understand contemporary politics, public opinion, or social stratification in the United States.' David C. Wilson, Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

    'The implications of Jardina's theory toward our understanding of racial conflict, including racist actions, are subtle yet important.' James. M. Thomas, American Journal of Sociology

    'Jardina examines the increasing relevance of white identity in America … Jardina finds that about thirty to forty per cent of white Americans say that white identity is important to them.' Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker

    'Jardina's research finds that it isn't just pundits and political scientists who have zeroed in on whiteness as an affirmative political identity: Many white Americans are identifying themselves with their racial group as well … Despite common oversimplifications about who these voters are, Jardina finds little evidence to suggest they are largely members of an economically fragile working class.' David A. Graham, The Atlantic

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108475525
    • length: 384 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 156 x 26 mm
    • weight: 0.67kg
    • contains: 38 b/w illus. 21 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The new American minority
    2. Making the invisible visible
    3. The measurement and meaning of group ties
    4. Who identifies as white?
    5. The content and contours of whiteness
    6. The preservation of whiteness
    7. Policies that protect the group
    8. A black man in the White House
    9. The future of white America.

  • Author

    Ashley Jardina, Duke University, North Carolina
    Ashley Jardina is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University, North Carolina. She studies the nature of racial attitudes and group identities and their influence on public opinion and political behavior. Her research has been featured in The New York Times, Vox, and the Washington Post's Monkey Cage.


    • Joint winner, 2020 Robert E. Lane Award for the best book in political psychology, American Political Science Association

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