Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Timothy L. O'Brien

Committee Members

Cary G. Costello, Erin N. Winkler


African Americans, Institutional trust, public opinion, race, racial inequality, social trust


Much of the research examining institutional and social trust explores the factors that affect these concepts, including race and ethnicity. Such studies involve comparing different racial groups and using race as a discrete independent variable in their analysis. Few researchers have sought to explore social and institutional trust within a single racial group, and when they have, it has only been in White respondents. In addition, few researchers have tied institutional and social trust to understandings of racial inequality. Due to the complex social and historical circumstances of African Americans, I propose there is a pattern in the way Black respondents develop social and institutional trust that is specific to their experiences with, and conceptualizations of, racial inequality. To examine this, I use items from the cumulative General Social Survey (1988 – 2018) measuring respondents’ beliefs about racial inequality. Rather than comparing multiple racial groups, I isolate Black respondents so as not to position them as “other” in reference to White respondents, perpetuating the hegemony of White experience. Using binary logit and ordinary least squares regression models, I will explore how these racial ideology items affect institutional and social trust. These findings contribute to research on how racial ideologies affect individuals’ worldviews and political dispositions.

Included in

Sociology Commons