The Obama Effect: How the 2008 Campaign Changed White Racial Attitudes

Russell Sage Foundation
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Barack Obama’s historic 2008 campaign exposed many white Americans more than ever before to a black individual who defied negative stereotypes. While Obama’s politics divided voters, Americans uniformly perceived Obama as highly successful, intelligent, and charismatic. What effect, if any, did the innumerable images of Obama and his family have on racial attitudes among whites? In The Obama Effect, Seth K. Goldman and Diana C. Mutz uncover persuasive evidence that white racial prejudice toward blacks significantly declined during the Obama campaign. Their innovative research rigorously examines how racial attitudes form, and whether they can be changed for the better. The Obama Effect draws from a survey of 20,000 people, whom the authors interviewed up to five times over the course of a year. This panel survey sets the volume apart from most research on racial attitudes. From the summer of 2008 through Obama’s inauguration in 2009, there was a gradual but clear trend toward lower levels of white prejudice against blacks. Goldman and Mutz argue that these changes occurred largely without people’s conscious awareness. Instead, as Obama became increasingly prominent in the media, he emerged as an “exemplar” that countered negative stereotypes in the minds of white Americans. Unfortunately, this change in attitudes did not last. By 2010, racial prejudice among whites had largely returned to pre-2008 levels. Mutz and Goldman argue that news coverage of Obama declined substantially after his election, allowing other, more negative images of African Americans to re-emerge in the media. The Obama Effect arrives at two key conclusions: Racial attitudes can change even within relatively short periods of time, and how African Americans are portrayed in the mass media affects how they change. While Obama’s election did not usher in a “post-racial America,” The Obama Effect provides hopeful evidence that racial attitudes can—and, for a time, did—improve during Obama’s campaign. Engaging and thorough, this volume offers a new understanding of the relationship between the mass media and racial attitudes in America.
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About the author

SETH K. GOLDMAN is Honors Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. DIANA C. MUTZ is Samuel A. Stouffer Professor of Political Science and Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
May 31, 2014
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Pages
202
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ISBN
9781610448246
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / General
Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
Political Science / Political Process / Media & Internet
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Population-based survey experiments have become an invaluable tool for social scientists struggling to generalize laboratory-based results, and for survey researchers besieged by uncertainties about causality. Thanks to technological advances in recent years, experiments can now be administered to random samples of the population to which a theory applies. Yet until now, there was no self-contained resource for social scientists seeking a concise and accessible overview of this methodology, its strengths and weaknesses, and the unique challenges it poses for implementation and analysis.

Drawing on examples from across the social sciences, this book covers everything you need to know to plan, implement, and analyze the results of population-based survey experiments. But it is more than just a "how to" manual. This lively book challenges conventional wisdom about internal and external validity, showing why strong causal claims need not come at the expense of external validity, and how it is now possible to execute experiments remotely using large-scale population samples.


Designed for social scientists across the disciplines, Population-Based Survey Experiments provides the first complete introduction to this methodology.


Offers the most comprehensive treatment of the subject
Features a wealth of examples and practical advice
Reexamines issues of internal and external validity
Can be used in conjunction with downloadable data from ExperimentCentral.org for design and analysis exercises in the classroom
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