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Heritage or Hate: An Examination of Attitudes on the Georgia State Flag Controversy


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Principal Investigator(s):

Vincent L. Hutchings
University of Michigan
Email: vincenth@umich.edu
Home page: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/polisci/people/ci.hutchingsvincent_ci.detail

Hanes Walton, Jr.
University of Michigan

Sample size: 706
Field period: 10/13/2004 - 11/2/2004

 

Abstract:

The continuing controversy surrounding the Confederate battle emblem presents an excellent opportunity to examine the influence of implicit and explicit racial cues on support for an ostensibly non-racial political symbol. Specifically, we examine whether non-racial frames, or explicitly racial ones influence attitudes about the flag in Georgia (which featured the battle flag on a previous version of the state flag). Additionally, in the case of explicit racial cues, we explore separately the effects of direct narrative references to race (i.e. black interests) and overt references to racism (i.e. racist hate groups). Each experimental condition presents our subjects with one of three fictitious political stories. One version of the story highlights black opposition to the battle flag. A second version highlights appeals to Georgia�s Confederate heritage. A third version emphasizes support for the Confederate flag among racist hate groups.

Hypotheses:

1) Explicit racial cues will prime (white) racial attitudes with respect to the flag in spite of some reports that such appeals are ineffective; 2) As race becomes more salient in discussion of the flag controversy, men and women and whites and blacks should diverge in their support for the battle emblem; 3) Black opposition to the flag, and relevant political figures associated with it, will be greatest in the condition highlighting African American hostility to the flag.

Experimental Manipulations:

Subjects are randomly assigned to one of four conditions (three experimental conditions and one control). Each condition presents our subjects with one of three fictitious political stories (see Appendix). One version of the story on the flag controversy highlights black opposition to the 1956 flag featuring the Confederate battle insignia. A second version highlights appeals to Georgia�s heritage. A third version emphasizes support for the Confederate flag among racist hate groups. Respondents in the control condition read a story of similar length involving computer games. With the exception of the headline, the accompanying photos, and a few phrases, the experimental stories are all identical.

Key Dependent Variables:

(Q5) "Which of these three Georgia state flags do you most prefer?" (Q6) "Some people say the Confederate battle emblem reminds them of white supremacy and racial conflict. (These people are at point 1 of the scale.) Other people say the Confederate battle emblem is a symbol of Southern heritage and pride. (These people are at point 7 of the scale.) Where would you place yourself on this scale? "

Conclusion:

By examining the kinds of appeals that most effectively prime support for Confederate symbols, we hope to contribute to interracial dialogue surrounding this divisive issue. On scientific grounds, our project will further develop the emerging theory of racial priming in three principal ways: by identifying whether and how explicit racial appeals can be effective; by testing the theory on a southern sample; and by examining the effects of racial priming on both whites and blacks.

References:

"Capture the Flag: Race and the Georgia State Flag Controvery," Presented at the 2005 National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS). "Heritage or Hate: Race, Gender, Partisanship and the Georgia State Flag Controversy," Presented at 2005 APSA.

Hutchings, Vincent L., Hanes Walton Jr, and Andrea Benjamin. 2010. The Impact of Explicit Racial Cues on Gender Differences in Support for Confederate Symbols and Partisanship. The Journal of Politics. 72: 1175-1188.


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