Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Criminal Justice

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 159 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Justin T Pickett

Committee Members

David Hureau, Theodore Wilson, Thomas Baker


Black Lives Matter, Framed group position, Police affinity, Police reform, Protests, Racial attitudes, Police-community relations, Police, Criminal justice, Administration of, African Americans, White people, Black lives matter movement

Subject Categories



Racial and ethnic differences in policing attitudes have generally been examined through the group position or other conflict perspectives. This perspective contains a limitation, especially when considering recent trends in racial and policing attitudes. Racial attitudes have been liberalizing for over a decade among White political liberals and moderates, while Republicans’ racial attitudes have been relatively stagnant. These divergent trends may have accelerated since the murder of George Floyd. While racial attitudes (including attitudes about the police) have been polarizing along political lines, the group position model suggests that racial attitudes and policy preferences among dominant group members, regardless of their political leanings, are motivated by the desire to maintain their group privileges. Taking stock of recent trends, my dissertation revisits the group position thesis to suggest that racial framing is a chief influencer of attitudes toward policing and other social institutions among Whites. For Black Americans and other persons of color, however, framing may matter less. Instead, policing attitudes may be more cemented in a collective understanding of their group’s subordination. To test these theoretical possibilities, this dissertation examines intra-racial variability across three studies. Study 1 tests the framed group position thesis by examining different levels of intra-racial variation in support for police reforms using data from the 2020 Cooperative Election Study. Study 2 replicates study 1 but extends the framed group position thesis to an additional outcome: affinity with the police. In study 3, I utilize a factorial vignette survey to assess the perceived acceptability of police force at protests and punishment preferences for those officers that used force. Supportive of the framed group position thesis, I find greater intra-racial variation in White attitudes about police reform in studies 1 and 2. However, I do not find greater intra-racial variation among Whites when analyzing affinity with law enforcement and use of force attitudes. Future studies should continue investigating the framed group position thesis by investigating differential receptivity to racial frames and investigating the theoretical structural changes of mass opinion change.

Included in

Criminology Commons