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Social Constructions of the Nonprejudiced White Self

Studies in Symbolic Interaction

ISBN: 978-1-78052-156-5, eISBN: 978-1-78052-157-2

Publication date: 14 October 2011


Previous research indicates that racial and ethnic prejudice continues to be prevalent in U.S. society; however, the social-psychological processes of prejudice are not fully understood. Furthermore, much research on prejudice focuses on white against black prejudice, at the exclusion of other minority groups. The purpose of this chapter is to explore white prejudice against Latinos using in-depth interview data with college students. Findings indicate that many participants describe instances in which they felt prejudice, yet they use creative mechanisms to justify their prejudice or construct it as something other than prejudice. Mostly, participants described their own prejudice as a “special type” of prejudice – including trait prejudice, situational prejudice, reciprocal prejudice, and recovered prejudice – that is distinct from ordinary prejudice. By describing their own prejudice as a “special type,” participants are able to construct themselves as nonprejudiced individuals while simultaneously acknowledging their prejudice.


Carter, S.K. and Rivera, F.I. (2011), "Social Constructions of the Nonprejudiced White Self", Denzin, N.K. and Faust, T. (Ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 111-133.



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