Speaker Russel Donald Kinder will address democracy and prejudice

University of Michigan psychology and political science professor Donald Kinder has studied closely the work of a Swedish economist who wrote decades ago about the struggle between democratic principles and racial prejudice.

Kinder will offer new perspectives on these topics through a contemporary lens at the 97th Henry Russel Lecture. The event will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on March 14 in the Michigan Union’s Pendleton Hall and will also be streamed online.

The Henry Russel Lectureship is the university’s highest honor for senior members of its active faculty. It is awarded annually to a faculty member who has had outstanding achievement in research, scholarship, or creative endeavour, as well as an outstanding record of distinguished teaching, mentorship, and service to UM and to the community at large.

Four faculty members will receive the Henry Russel Awards, the university’s highest honor for early and mid-career faculty, at the event. They are:

  • Shanna DalyAssociate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering.
  • Roshanak MehdipanahAssistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health.
  • Tiffany NgAssociate Professor of Music, School of Music, Theater and Dance.
  • LaKisha SimmonsAssociate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and History, LSA.

Kinder is the Philip E. Converse Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Professor of Political Science and Psychology at LSA, and Research Professor at the Center for Policy Studies at the Institute for Social Research. His lecture is titled “Myrdal’s Prediction: Prejudice and Principles in American Political Life.”

Donald Kinder

Much of Kinder’s work over the years has provided evidence and precision to economist Gunnar Myrdal’s claims. In 1944, Myrdal wrote “An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy.”

“The dilemma Myrdal claimed to uncover at the heart of America’s race problem arose out of the stark contradiction between democratic ideals and racial discrimination,” read a description of Kinder’s lecture provided by the Office of University Development.

“White Americans were caught in a dilemma, suspended between their attachment to lofty democratic principles – what Myrdal called the American creed – on the one hand, and their belief in the superiority of the white race, on the other.

“In the struggle between democratic principles and racial prejudice, Myrdal was certain that the former would prevail: the advance of the American credo was inexorable and the days of racism were numbered.”

During his lecture, Kinder will offer three illustrations. The first concerns the emergence of a new form of racism, unforeseen by Myrdal, arising out of the race crisis of the 1960s. The second concerns the statewide campaign to ban the use of race in college admissions in Michigan in 2006, and the third concerns the rise to power of Donald Trump in 2016.

Kinder has played a leading role in nearly every major development in the field of public opinion research over the past four decades. In his seminal book, “News that Matters” from 1987, he demonstrated the power of television news to alter public priorities and shape the criteria by which voters evaluate politicians.

Kinder’s 1996 book, “Divided by Color,” made an equally significant contribution to the study of racial attitudes and politics. He advanced a new theory of contemporary prejudice that explained how a fusion of anti-black sentiments and conservative values ​​forge what has come to be called “racial resentment” and is seen as one of the strongest and most more coherent that shape American public opinion. .

In another pioneering study, “Us Against Them,” published in 2009, Kinder demonstrated how popular predispositions to broader forms of groupthink operate, transcending prejudices toward specific groups and seeing society in terms of privileged groups. and excluded groups. .

Kinder joined UM in 1981. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. The American Political Science Association honored him in 2012 with Warren E. Miller Lifetime Achievement Award. public opinion and elections.

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