Antecedents of a Structural Understanding of Discrimination
In a recent review, my colleague and I present a theoretical framework for understanding how individuals come to hold a structural understanding of discrimination, as well as the consequences of structural discrimination beliefs on perceptions of inequality, remedial policy preferences and support for collective action (see below, Rucker & Richeson, 2021, Science). As I outlined in the previous sections, much of my research thus far, examining beliefs about structural discrimination, focused on the consequences of holding a structural understanding of discrimination. In future work, I plan to further exploring the ways in which education, socialization and psychological motivations influence individuals’ beliefs about structural discrimination.
In some ongoing research, I’m working to further elucidate the causal processes through which individuals come to endorse a structural understanding of racism that may shape beliefs about racial inequality and support for efforts to redress it. Based on the insights developed from this current research, I plan to develop, and examine the potential impact of, interventions designed to make structural (v. interpersonal) aspects of racism more salient, on perceptions of racial inequality, and support for redistributive policy initiatives. Moreover, I plan to explore how parental and community socialization practices may help to shape children’s beliefs about structural racial inequality.
In addition to education and socialization, I also plan to further investigate how various psychological motives may shape individuals’ willingness to acknowledge structural discrimination in explaining contemporary group-based inequalities. For instance, in some of my ongoing research, I am investigating the implications of “meritocratic threat” (e.g, Knowles & Lowery, 2014)— or the concern that one’s personal successes could be attributed to external factors, like unfair group-based advantage, rather than ostensibly “internal” factors, like hard work and skill—on White Americans’ beliefs about structural discrimination. Moreover, I will explore how education/socialization and these psychological motives may influence each other in shaping beliefs about structural discrimination. It will be critical to understand the interplay of these factors in order to better understand how individuals come to hold structural beliefs about discrimination and inequality, as well as how these beliefs change over time.