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The influence of race/ethnicity, social class, and neighborhood context on residents’ attitudes towards the police

By Amie M. Schuck, Dennis P. Rosenbaum and Darnell F. Hawkins


The purpose of this study is to extend our understanding of attitudes toward the police by examining how race/ethnicity, social class, and neighborhood context interact to influence four different dimensions of attitudes: neighborhood, global, police services, and fear of the police. The results showed significant racial/ethnic variation in percep-tions of the police, with African-Americans reporting the most negative attitudes. The magnitude of the racial/ethnic gap, however, varied across the different attitude dimen-sions with the largest difference between African-Americans and Whites in terms of fear of the police. The findings also suggested that African-Americans ’ and Hispanics’ perceptions of the police are moderated by the interaction of social class and neigh-borhood socioeconomic composition. Middle-class African-Americans and Hispanics who resided in disadvantaged neighborhoods reported more negative attitudes toward the police than those who resided in more advantaged areas. Overall the study findings highlight the complex interplay between experiences, community context, social class, and type of attitudinal assessment in understanding within and across racial and ethnic variation in residents ’ perceptions of the police

Topics: attitudes, community, injustice, race
Year: 2008
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