In a study published in the December issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sociologists Andrew Penner, UCI, and Aliya Saperstein, University of Oregon, found that over time, changes in a person's social status - such as income level, employment status and incarceration status - alter both the way people racially categorize themselves and others. Read their full report online at http://www.pnas.org/content/105/50/19628.full?sid=8fa6c3d3-1c21-4fe3-8663-272211364055.  
 
With a recently awarded $35,000 grant from the Russell Sage Foundation, Penner and Saperstein are expanding the study to explore how thinking about race as changeable provides insight into inequality.  
 
"While most people think of race as something that is fixed and unchanging, our research shows this is not the case," he says. "By recognizing that perceptions of race are fluid and connected to stereotypes about social status, we hope to be able to explain some of reasons that racial inequality persists in today's society and inform policies aimed at addressing it."  
 
The one year study began in spring 2009. Detailed findings on effects of incarceration on racial categorization are forth-coming in the February issue of the journal Social Problems.  

 

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