POSTPONED - Think Structurally, Act Individually? Assessing the Role of Racial Sympathy on Political Behavior


Friday, April 8, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Event postponed

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are postponing this event. 

Racial sympathy, defined as white distress over Black suffering, is an understudied but influential, force in American public opinion. It is associated with white support for a wide range of racialized policies, such as redistribution, affirmative action, and criminal justice. This presentation considers the behavioral consequences of this unique racial attitude. Does racial sympathy manifest into political behavior? To answer this question, Jennifer Chudy, Knafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences; Assistant Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College conducted a series of in-depth interviews with white racial justice activists. These white Americans are unusually and genuinely invested in eradicating Black suffering. Many also recognize the role that institutions and politics play in perpetuating racial inequality. However, they also tend to propose private solutions to public problems, such as taking tolerance classes, eliminating prejudice at home, and empathizing with Black people in lieu of more traditional forms of political participation. Chudy consider the reasons for this preference and whether efficacy moderates the effect of racial sympathy on political behavior. The qualitative interviews complement results from several national surveys, including a recent national study of white Americans and the 2008 and 2012 American National Election Studies.

Join us for an American Politics Speaker Series seminar with Professor Chudy as she discusses her latest reseach.

This event is open to Harvard-ID holders. Lunch will be served.

The Ash Center encourages individuals with disabilities to participate in its events. Should you wish to enquire about an accommodation, please contact our events team at prior to the event. 

About the Series 

The American Politics Speaker Series (APSS) aims to bring together scholars who are doing research on important questions related to American democracy. Hosted jointly with the Center for American Political Studies and chaired by Professors Maya Sen, Benjamin Schneer, and Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, each session will highlight a scholar whose research is at the forefront of the study of American politics.

Event Details 

Due to space restrictions, registration is required - please click the link above to register. The Ash Center follows all Harvard University COVID-19 protocols. Effective Monday, March 14, masks will no longer be required at Harvard Kennedy School events, but anyone who wishes to wear a mask should feel free to do so.