Elihu Katz Colloquium Series: Maria Abascal, Columbia University

Contraction as a Response to Group Status Threat: The Case of Whites' Demographic Decline
31 Jan 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500

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About the Talk

How are White Americans reacting to ongoing diversification? Prior work identifies two sets of reactions: (1) Whites identify more strongly with ingroup members, and (2) they withhold material and symbolic resources from outgroup members. I explore another possibility: Whites may alter the boundary around Whiteness by redefining the criteria for membership. The project uses an original survey experiment to examine how demographic threat affects US Whites' classification of people who are racially ambiguous. The results reveal that Whites are less––not more––likely to classify people who are ambiguously White or Latino as "White" under threat. The results contribute to a growing literature on the racial classification of multiracial and racially ambiguous people that has previously ignored ambiguity around the Latino category; they also speak to an active debate about highly publicized demographic projections and the classification decisions on which they rest. 

About the Speaker

Maria Abascal is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Dr. Abascal recently completed a postdoc in the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University. She received her PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from Princeton University. Broadly, she is interested in intergroup relations and boundary processes, especially as they pertain to race, ethnicity and nationalism. Her dissertation explores the impact of Hispanic population growth––real and perceived––on relations between Blacks and Whites in the United States. Dr. Abascal's research draws on a range of quantitative methods and data sources, including original lab, survey, and field experiments. Other research projects deal with the consequences of diversity, the determinants of skin color perception, the sources of the criminal immigrant stereotype, the predictors of immigrant naturalization, and the geographic distribution of patriotic behaviors. 

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