Race, Class and Trust: Perceptions of the Police in North Carolina

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Title: Race, Class and Trust: Perceptions of the Police in North Carolina
Author: Warren, Patricia Yvonne
Advisors: Melvin Thomas, Committee Member
Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, Committee Chair
William R. Smith, Committee Member
Matthew Zingraff, Committee Member
Abstract: The purpose of this research is to re-examine factors that affect perceptions of the police. Previous research has consistently argued that African Americans are more likely to question police legitimacy (Reis 1971; Bayley & Mendelsohn 1969; Weitzer 1999; Weitzer & Tuch 2004; Sampson & Bartusch 1998). Much of this research has emphasized the importance of race, social class, and community context. However, there has been little effort in this research to situate these findings in a theoretical context. Therefore, this research used two theoretical frameworks — identity theory and cognitive bias theory - to explain the race gap in perceptions of the police. Two outcomes were estimated to assess the race gap in perceptions of the police behavior — perceptions of police treatment and perceptions of police fairness. The first set of models captured how racial and class identity impact perceptions of police treatment. In essence these models assessed what are the race and class differences in perceptions of disrespect by the police. They also examined the extent to which perceptions of disrespect are tied to identities or a more generic process. The next, set of models examined the importance of race and class identities and their impact on perceptions of police fairness. These models were estimated in order to assess what factors people use to make assessments about police fairness. African American citizens, respondents who have heard negative stories about police behavior, those who believe police engage in racial profiling and those respondents with more long-standing distrust of social institutions in society are less likely to trust the police and they are also more likely to perceive disrespect by the police. It is also the case that personally experiencing disrespect by the police, hearing negative stories about police behavior, belief in police profiling and distrust of the other governmental institutions explains a large portion of the race gap in perceptions of the police.
Date: 2006-07-26
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Sociology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/3987

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