American Sociological Association

The Role of Gender, Class, and Religion in Biracial Americans Racial Labeling Decisions

Racial attachments are understood to be socially constructed and endogenous to gender, socioeconomic, and religious identities. Yet we know surprisingly little about the effect of such identities on the particular racial labels that individuals self-select. In this article, I investigate how social identities shape the racial labels chosen by biracial individuals in the United States, a rapidly growing population who have multiple labeling options. Examining national surveys of more than 37,000 respondents of Latino-white, Asian-white, and black-white parentage, I disentangle how gender, socioeconomic status, and religious identity influence racial labeling decisions. Across biracial subgroups and net of all other influences, economic affluence and Jewish identity predict whiter self-identification, whereas belonging to a religion more commonly associated with racial minorities is associated with a minority identification. Gender, however, is the single best predictor of identification, with biracial women markedly more likely than biracial men to identify as multiracial. These findings help us better understand the contextual nature of racial identification and the processes via which social identities interact with racial meanings in the United States.

Authors

Davenport, L. D.

Volume

81

Issue

1

Starting Page

57

Ending Page

84

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