Black-white relations have changed sharply in recent years. But no overarching sociological perspective has emerged to explain these changes. Many ideas with contrasting conceptualizations have been advanced, however. This chapter uncovers empirical agreements across these rival theoretical positions. At the structural level, race and class studies appear to converge on an interactional position—one that emphasizes the importance of both race and class factors as well as their interactions. A parallel convergence is emerging at the social psychological level. Though increasingly ambivalent and indirect, racist attitudes remain important; but racism must now be placed in a wider context of subjective self-interest, stratification beliefs, and cognitive bias. Hence, the causal complexity and indirectness of modern race relations are repeatedly shown in current research at both the macro- and microlevels. Closer attention to this emerging empirical convergence would further the needed theoretical convergence. The chapter closes with calls for more attention to black American responses and to the links between the macro- and microlevels of analysis.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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