Group Dominance and the Myth of Racial Democracy: Antiracism Attitudes in Brazil

Group Dominance and the Myth of Racial Democracy: Antiracism Attitudes in Brazil

American Sociological Review
Volume 69, Number 5 (October 2004)
pages 728-747
DOI: 10.1177/000312240406900506

Stanley R. Bailey, Associate Professor of Sociology
University of California, Irvine

Group dominance perspectives contend that ideologies are central to the production and reproduction of racial oppression by their negative affect on attitudes toward antiracism initiatives. The Brazilian myth of racial democracy frequently is framed in this light, evoked as a racist ideology to explain an apparent lack of confrontation of racial inequality. Data from a 2000 probability sample of racial attitudes in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, contradict this long-held assertion, showing that most Brazilians in this state recognize racism as playing a role in Brazilian society, support the idea of affirmative action, and express interest in belonging to antiracism organizations. Moreover, opinions on affirmative action appear more strongly correlated with social class, as measured by education level, than race. As compared with results from the United States regarding opinions on similar selected affirmative action policies, the racial gap in Brazilian support for affirmative action is only moderate. Results also show that those who recognize the existence of racial discrimination in Brazil are more likely to support affirmative action. Implications for race theorizing from a group dominance perspective in Brazil as well as for antiracism strategies are addressed.

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