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Interracial Partnerships and Racial Centrality: An Application of Social Identity and Intergroup Contact Theories
AuthorGannon, Michael Robert
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Few studies on relationships have considered how racial centrality operates within interracial relationships. Considering the steady increase in the number of interracial relationships in the U.S., it is important to understand the ways in which racial identities are constructed and maintained in this context. Previous research on interracial relationships has explored race and identity in several ways but has yet to clarify how interracial relationships may affect racial centrality for the individuals involved. To investigate this empirically, I apply two theoretical approaches which have yet to be considered in this way in the literature on interracial relationships and racial centrality: social identity and intergroup contact theories. Through social identity theory, drawing and maintaining symbolic boundaries allows individuals to distinguish themselves apart from others by race, allowing racial identity to become more highly centralized. Meanwhile, intergroup contact theory complicates this process of boundary construction by promoting positive out-group attitudes, leading to a decrease in racial centrality. This research adds to previous work by making important theoretical and empirical contributions to the study of racial identity and identity processes. This research also looks more closely than previous studies at how individual racial identity operates within interracial relationships. Finally, I discuss the implications for future research and studies.