American Sociological Association

Group Position, Threat, and Immigration: The Role of Interest Groups and Elite Actors in Setting the "Lines of Discussion"

The purpose of this paper is to move research on racial attitudes away from studying intraindividual attitudes toward studying broader structural factors that contribute to the attitudes and feelings of U.S. citizens. We focus on how interest groups and elite actors play a role in shaping the discourse on immigrants and the immigration debate in the twenty-first century. Herbert Blumer posed that over time, the dominant group develops certain feelings toward subordinate group members and that these feelings form the basis of racial prejudice. These feelings include notions of superiority, the alienation of other groups, proprietary claims over valued resources, and finally, a feeling that resources are threatened. While not dismissing the importance of interpersonal interactions, Blumer posed that elite entities within the dominant group play prominent roles in producing and managing these feelings among the masses because they have access to the public ear. To assess how the elite attempt to manage feelings toward immigration, we use qualitative data from 33 amicus briefs submitted in support of Arizona’s SB 1070 law in the Arizona v. United States case. Findings reveal that each of the feelings was prominently represented in all briefs, which supports the notion that elite entities use arguments that promote feelings Blumer associated with racial prejudice.


Carter, J. S., Lippard, C.





Starting Page


Ending Page


Get Involved


ASA needs you to serve the discipline

Join a Section

Explore ASA's community of specialists in the discipline

Join ASA

Join or renew your membership