Paul M. Kellstedt explains the variation in Americans' racial attitudes over the last half-century, particularly the relationship between media coverage of race and American public opinion on race. The analyses reveal that racial policy preferences have evolved in an interesting and unpredicted (if not unpredictable) fashion over the past fifty years. There have been sustained periods of liberalism, where the public prefers an active government to bring about racial equality, and these periods are invariably followed by eras of conservatism, where the public wants the government to stay out of racial politics altogether. These opinions respond to cues presented in the national media. Kellstedt then examines the relationship between attitudes on the two major issues of the twentieth century: race and the welfare state.
1. Toward a dynamic perspective on racial attitudes; 2. Eras of media coverage of race; 3. Eras of racial liberalism and conservatism; 4. Media framing and the dynamics of racial policy preferences; 5. The fusion of race and the welfare state in the public mind; 6. A new American dilemma for a new millennium?