Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Racialized Perceptions: a Comparative Study of Symbolic Racism in Europe

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Political Science

First Advisor

Robert Albritton

Second Advisor

Greg Love

Third Advisor

Alice Cooper


Symbolic racism is a concept that has been heavily publicized and studied in the American context. However, less is known about what factors may influence levels of symbolic racism outside of America, and more specifically, in Europe. Nevertheless, it expected that symbolic racism is present in European countries whose residents have a relationship with the African Diaspora and/or Great Migration of North Africans and Caribbean. Furthermore, symbolic racism is present where the state has laws implemented that prohibit actions of overt racism, old-fashion racism, and discrimination. Thus, this thesis examines symbolic racism in eight European countries: France, Italy, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, and Germany. The inquiry begins constructing a six item additive scale of symbolic racism for each country using data from Eurobarometer 53 taken in 2000. A confirmatory factor analysis is utilized to insure that items used to conceptualize symbolic racism belong together. In addition, a Cronbach's Alpha test was also conducted to insure reliability of scale. The findings suggest that the operationalization of symbolic racism used is appropriate. The analysis continues with an examination of background characteristics that help explain individuals' levels of symbolic racism. The results of an ordinary least squares regression analysis for each country support some of the previous finding that age and political ideology can affect symbolic racism. Moreover, this research suggests that education not income is the most helpful explanatory variable in explaining individuals' symbolic racism in Europe.

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