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White Students Understandings of Whiteness - Their Contents and Processes

 

Description of research project:

We are interested in finding students who will assist in identifying key themes about "whiteness" (as an identity, as a set of social/cultural processes, and as a social structure) in student papers and interviews. White students taking LSA academically-credited racial dialogue courses within the Intergroup Relations Program wrote papers at the beginning and end of the semester, and participated in interviews, inquiring into:


- What they were taught, explicitly and implicitly about race and about being white.
- The importance of their racial/ethnic identity to them
- Their experiences with discrimination and/or with advantages due to their race.
- The impact of their being white in the dialogue settings and more.

Among some themes that have emerged in a pilot study several years ago were:
- Seeing white culture as the societal norm
- Thoughts - expressed or unexpressed about people of another race.
- Associated behaviors
- Recognition of white advantages or privilege and more

Description of work:

Students will be oriented to the data set and to the basic principles of qualitative data analysis. Students will read through student papers and transcribed interview material to develop a coding system for identifying and categorizing statements about whiteness, students' experiences of whiteness, and their views of the impact of whiteness on race and race relations. Consequently, they will conduct preliminary forms of data analysis of these coded materials. Throughout this process students will read academic and popular articles on race, whiteness, and related subjects. There are at least two other students already involved in this project, so attention will be paid to team interactions and checks of reliability in coding material.

Supervising faculty members:

Mark Chesler (Emeritus Professor of Sociology) and Kelly Maxwell (Lecturer in Psychology).

Contact information:

Chesler - 'mchesler@umich.edu'

Maxwell - 'kmax@umich.edu'

Average hours of work per week: 6-8

Range of credit hours students can earn: 2

Number of positions available: 2