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Abstract

This study uses data from the 1990 and 1987 years of the General Social Survey to assess the effects of minority status and position in the class structure in explaining middle class African Americans' support for opportunity-enhancing and outcome-based egalitarian statist policies. Findings do not provide confirmation for prior research that has found that racial effects are predominant, but has considered a more narrow range of policies and not assessed interaction effects. First, neither additive nor interactive effects of race and social class explain support for government policies that are premised on providing people with skills to compete in the labor market. Second, interaction effects are salient for government policies that are intended to guarantee socioeconomic outcomes. Specifically, the joint effects of race and social class explain levels of support that are intermediate between the relatively pro-interventionist views of working class racial peers and the more anti-statist stance of white middle class counterparts. The race/class dynamics are interpreted as a product of the extent to which the two policy types conform to the dominant principles of American stratification ideology. In addition, implications of the findings for understanding the kinds of policies likely to be enacted and racial inequality in the policy implementation process are discussed. Finally, suggestions for future research that shed additional light on the race/class basis of opinions about egalitarian statism are offered.

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