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

Dixon, John and Durrheim, Kevin and Thomae, Manuela (2017) The principle-implementation gap in attitudes towards racial inequality (and how to close it). Advances in Political Psychology, 38 (S1). pp. 91-126. ISSN 0162-895X

Thomae_ThePrincipleImplementationGap... Item 483 original deposit ONE with set statement.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview


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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: racism; policy attitudes; sociology of racism; the principle-implementation gap; desegregation; social change; South Africa
Subjects: C Biological sciences > C810 Applied psychology
C Biological sciences > C846 Community psychology
C Biological sciences > C890 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Departments: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Manuela Thomae
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2017 11:37
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2018 01:00

Actions (login required)

Edit Item Edit Item