What's Going On?

cover art
208 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781589017023 (1589017021)

ISBN: 9781589016163

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August 2010
LC: 2010001635


Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Press Release

Listen to a lecture by author Katerine Tate on opinion polls

What's Going On?
Political Incorporation and the Transformation of Black Public Opinion
Katherine Tate

In political opinion surveys from the 1950s through the 1970s, African Americans were consistently among the most liberal groups in the United States and were much further to the left than White Americans on most issues. Starting in the 1980s, Black public opinion began to move to the center, and this trend has deepened since. Why is this the case?

Katherine Tate contends that Black political incorporation and increased affluence since the civil rights movement have made Black politics and public opinion more moderate over time. Black leaders now have greater opportunity to participate in mainstream politics, and Blacks look to elected officials rather than activists for political leadership. Black socioeconomic concerns have moved to the center as poverty has declined and their economic opportunities have improved.

Based on solid analysis of public opinion data from the 1970s to the present, Tate examines how Black opinions on welfare, affirmative action, crime control, school vouchers, civil rights for other minorities, immigration, the environment, and U.S. foreign policy have changed.

Katherine Tate is a professor of political science and African American studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Black Faces in the Mirror and From Protest to Politics.
"Tate's data are extensive, interesting, and informative, and provide for a compelling story of how blacks think about politics, yesterday and today . . . Tate's work should become seminal reading for those interested in public opinion, and race and politics."—Political Science Quarterly

"An intriguing work drawing together more than thirty years of public opinion data from a variety of sources . . . provides an engaging discussion of trends in Black public opinion over the past few decades and a promising conceptual framework for future research in this area."—National Political Science Review

"Katherine Tate's new empirical work on African American public opinion moves the field into a wholly new direction. Instead of analyzing the diverse ideologies within this public opinion, this bold and novel pioneering work assesses and evaluates the dynamism in this opinion between 1970 to 2004 with insights from 2008. Tate makes a startling argument and finding: African American public opinion has moved from its left/liberal mooring to now a moderate/centrist position but is currently poised so as to be shifted back given the outcome of the Obama Administration. Her thesis is that African American political incorporation has moderated the radical nature of African American public opinion. This book is a fascinating read. It is also a brilliant and original work."—Hanes Walton Jr., The University of Michigan

"What's Going On? is a provocative and informative examination of African American public opinion. Scholars of Black politics will consult and debate this important work for many years to come."—Vincent Hutchings, Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan

Table of Contents

1. What's Going On? The State of Public Opinion in Black America

2. Welfare Reform and Shifts in Black Opinion on Welfare Policies

3. Shifts in Black Support for Government Aid to Blacks and Minorities

4. Black Opinion on Crime Control Policies

5. Education Policies, School Vouchers, and Busing in Black America

6. Social Issues and Rights for Women and for Gays and Lesbians in Black America

7. Black Opinion on Immigration and the Environment

8. Blacks on U.S. Foreign Policy

9. Black Political Incorporation and Public Opinion

Appendix: List of Public Opinion Data Sets