The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it)

John Dixon, Kevin Durrheim, Manuela Thomae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Research on attitudes towards racial equality has identified an apparent paradox, sometimes described as the ‘Principle-Implementation gap’. White Americans accept equality as an ideal yet reject interventions designed to achieve that ideal. In this paper, we provide a critical review of empirical and theoretical work in the field and outline some directions for future research. Drawing on a programme of research conducted in post-apartheid South Africa, we argue for the value of: (1) widening the field beyond its traditional focus on white policy attitudes in the United States; (2) developing relational models that encompass more fully the perspectives of historically disadvantaged as well as historically advantaged communities; (3) making greater use of methods that elucidate how ordinary people themselves construct the meaning of the Principle-Implementation gap and how this informs, and indeed justifies and normalises, associated patterns of behaviour; and (4) prioritizing the difficult question of how to promote social change in societies where most citizens embrace equality as a noble end but often reject the means through which it might be accomplished. With regards to the latter – and given the ascendancy of prejudice-based explanations of the Principle-Implementation gap - the paper evaluates in particular some strengths and limitations of a prejudice-reduction model of social change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-126
JournalAdvances in Political Psychology
Volume38
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • racism
  • policy attitudes
  • sociology of racism
  • the principle-implementation gap
  • desegregation
  • social change
  • South Africa

Cite this

Dixon, J., Durrheim, K., & Thomae, M. (2017). The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it). Advances in Political Psychology, 38(S1), 91-126.
Dixon, John ; Durrheim, Kevin ; Thomae, Manuela. / The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it). In: Advances in Political Psychology. 2017 ; Vol. 38, No. S1. pp. 91-126.
@article{92cf372c6b154d27b6154b00a4cbeac2,
title = "The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it)",
abstract = "Research on attitudes towards racial equality has identified an apparent paradox, sometimes described as the ‘Principle-Implementation gap’. White Americans accept equality as an ideal yet reject interventions designed to achieve that ideal. In this paper, we provide a critical review of empirical and theoretical work in the field and outline some directions for future research. Drawing on a programme of research conducted in post-apartheid South Africa, we argue for the value of: (1) widening the field beyond its traditional focus on white policy attitudes in the United States; (2) developing relational models that encompass more fully the perspectives of historically disadvantaged as well as historically advantaged communities; (3) making greater use of methods that elucidate how ordinary people themselves construct the meaning of the Principle-Implementation gap and how this informs, and indeed justifies and normalises, associated patterns of behaviour; and (4) prioritizing the difficult question of how to promote social change in societies where most citizens embrace equality as a noble end but often reject the means through which it might be accomplished. With regards to the latter – and given the ascendancy of prejudice-based explanations of the Principle-Implementation gap - the paper evaluates in particular some strengths and limitations of a prejudice-reduction model of social change.",
keywords = "racism, policy attitudes, sociology of racism, the principle-implementation gap, desegregation, social change, South Africa",
author = "John Dixon and Kevin Durrheim and Manuela Thomae",
year = "2017",
month = "1",
day = "26",
language = "English",
volume = "38",
pages = "91--126",
number = "S1",

}

Dixon, J, Durrheim, K & Thomae, M 2017, 'The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it)', Advances in Political Psychology, vol. 38, no. S1, pp. 91-126.

The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it). / Dixon, John; Durrheim, Kevin; Thomae, Manuela.

In: Advances in Political Psychology, Vol. 38, No. S1, 26.01.2017, p. 91-126.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it)

AU - Dixon, John

AU - Durrheim, Kevin

AU - Thomae, Manuela

PY - 2017/1/26

Y1 - 2017/1/26

N2 - Research on attitudes towards racial equality has identified an apparent paradox, sometimes described as the ‘Principle-Implementation gap’. White Americans accept equality as an ideal yet reject interventions designed to achieve that ideal. In this paper, we provide a critical review of empirical and theoretical work in the field and outline some directions for future research. Drawing on a programme of research conducted in post-apartheid South Africa, we argue for the value of: (1) widening the field beyond its traditional focus on white policy attitudes in the United States; (2) developing relational models that encompass more fully the perspectives of historically disadvantaged as well as historically advantaged communities; (3) making greater use of methods that elucidate how ordinary people themselves construct the meaning of the Principle-Implementation gap and how this informs, and indeed justifies and normalises, associated patterns of behaviour; and (4) prioritizing the difficult question of how to promote social change in societies where most citizens embrace equality as a noble end but often reject the means through which it might be accomplished. With regards to the latter – and given the ascendancy of prejudice-based explanations of the Principle-Implementation gap - the paper evaluates in particular some strengths and limitations of a prejudice-reduction model of social change.

AB - Research on attitudes towards racial equality has identified an apparent paradox, sometimes described as the ‘Principle-Implementation gap’. White Americans accept equality as an ideal yet reject interventions designed to achieve that ideal. In this paper, we provide a critical review of empirical and theoretical work in the field and outline some directions for future research. Drawing on a programme of research conducted in post-apartheid South Africa, we argue for the value of: (1) widening the field beyond its traditional focus on white policy attitudes in the United States; (2) developing relational models that encompass more fully the perspectives of historically disadvantaged as well as historically advantaged communities; (3) making greater use of methods that elucidate how ordinary people themselves construct the meaning of the Principle-Implementation gap and how this informs, and indeed justifies and normalises, associated patterns of behaviour; and (4) prioritizing the difficult question of how to promote social change in societies where most citizens embrace equality as a noble end but often reject the means through which it might be accomplished. With regards to the latter – and given the ascendancy of prejudice-based explanations of the Principle-Implementation gap - the paper evaluates in particular some strengths and limitations of a prejudice-reduction model of social change.

KW - racism

KW - policy attitudes

KW - sociology of racism

KW - the principle-implementation gap

KW - desegregation

KW - social change

KW - South Africa

M3 - Article

VL - 38

SP - 91

EP - 126

IS - S1

ER -

Dixon J, Durrheim K, Thomae M. The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it). Advances in Political Psychology. 2017 Jan 26;38(S1):91-126.