a1 University of Missouri–St. Louis
Context matters, but which context? We live in more than one context; for example, the cities in which we reside may differ dramatically from the neighborhoods we call home. When testing the racial-threat hypothesis, previous research has focused upon a single context, usually in isolation from other, potentially competing contexts. This paper argues that racial context is complicated for whites, and that multiple contexts need to be considered to assess racial threats effectively. Using individual evaluations of neighborhood and city, I show that contexts interact in complicated, surprising, and important ways. I find that the presence of African Americans does have a negative effect upon white attitudes, but that the effect can be misleading if examined in isolation. Scholars need to carefully consider multiple contexts when examining attitudes, and individuals who inhabit incongruent—that is, conflicting— contexts tell an interesting story about race and residence in the United States.
(Online publication December 23 2004)
(Accepted August 08 2005)
Brady Baybeck is assistant professor of political science and public policy administration, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Normandy, MO 63121.