Awareness of being White, perceptions about racial minority groups, and interracial contact: A study of Mennonites in America

Jill Christine Stoltzfus, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This study investigates factors affecting the racial perceptions of 492 White Mennonite adults, an American subgroup whose sense of collective identity is rooted in cultural and spiritual similarities rather than in a shared awareness of being White. Theories of White racial identity, contextual experiences and interracial contact are highlighted as they pertain to White Mennonites' racial perceptions. It was hypothesized that White Mennonites experiencing meaningful interracial contacts in different contextual settings would exhibit more positive racial perceptions than other White Mennonites. Hypothesis testing occurred in conjunction with validation of the researcher's Scale of White Racial Attitudes-Mennonite Version. Following item, exploratory and confirmatory analyses, three dimensions resulted: Assumptions about Racial Minority Group Differences, Attitudes Toward Racial Minority Issues, and Personal Feelings About Racial Minority Groups. Repeated-measures ANOVAs supported the hypotheses and yielded significant interactional effects for racial perceptions with age, education, residence, Mennonite status and interracial contacts. Implications for White Mennonites and race relations, as well as possible implications for White Americans as a whole, are discussed.

Subject Area

Behaviorial sciences|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Social psychology|American studies

Recommended Citation

Stoltzfus, Jill Christine, "Awareness of being White, perceptions about racial minority groups, and interracial contact: A study of Mennonites in America" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9926204.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9926204

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