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      Whites' Opposition to “Busing”: Self-interest or Symbolic Politics?

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      American Political Science Review

      JSTOR

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          Abstract

          This article contrasts the “self-interest” and “symbolic politics” explanations for the formation of mass policy preferences and voting behavior. Self-interested attitudes are defined as those supporting policies that would maximize benefits and minimize costs to the individual's private material well-being. The “symbolic politics” model emphasizes pressures to make adulthood attitudes consistent with the residues of preadult socialization. We compare the two models in terms of their ability to account for whites' opposition to busing school children for racial integration of the public schools, and the role of the busing issue in presidential voting decisions, using the 1972 Center for Political Studies election study. Regression analysis shows strong effects of symbolic attitudes (racial intolerance and political conservatism) on opposition to busing, and of the busing issue on presidential voting decisions. Self-interest (e.g., having children susceptible to busing) had no significant effect upon either. It is concluded that self-interest is often overestimated as a determinant of public opinion and voting behavior because it is too rarely directly assessed empirically.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Economic Retrospective Voting in American National Elections: A Micro-Analysis

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            Voter Response to Short-Run Economic Conditions: the Asymmetric Effect of Prosperity and Recession

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              From Life Space to Polling Place: The Relevance of Personal Concerns for Voting Behavior

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                American Political Science Review
                Am Polit Sci Rev
                JSTOR
                0003-0554
                1537-5943
                June 1979
                August 2014
                : 73
                : 02
                : 369-384
                Article
                10.2307/1954885
                © 1979

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