Interracial Unease in an Urban Setting: The Influence of Neighborhood Social Context

Kathleen A. Cagney, University of Chicago
Danielle Wallace, University of Chicago
Christopher Browning, Ohio State University

The state of social relationships between Blacks and Whites is typically investigated by means of individual-level factors and their influence on perceptions of comfort or unease. We hypothesize that neighborhood-level factors have an independent effect on these perceptions. We examine perceptions of interracial unease separately for Blacks and Whites and ask whether they are influenced by the context in which they are embedded. Theories of social organization and collective efficacy are invoked. We combine the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods-Community Survey with two other data sources and employ Hierarchical Modeling techniques. We find that propinquity behaves differently depending on race. Whites consistently perceive more unease, particularly when they live in relatively integrated neighborhoods. Blacks, in contrast, exhibit a curvilinear pattern, with those residing in relatively integrated neighborhoods reporting the lowest levels of perceived unease. Collective efficacy exerts an unexpected positive effect on unease for both Blacks and Whites.

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Presented in Session 141: Consequences of Racial/Ethnic Residential Segregation