Placing Racial Fluidity in Context

Aliya Saperstein, Stanford University
Robert Pickett, University of California, Berkeley
Andrew Penner, University of California, Irvine

As mounting evidence demonstrates that an individual’s race is subject to change, the question increasingly becomes: under what circumstances is racial fluidity more or less likely? We draw on a geocoded national longitudinal survey that allows us to link individuals to the U.S. counties in which they live. Our analysis explores whether racial fluidity is more common in some places rather than others, and whether contextual characteristics help to predict the specific racial classification of individuals either in addition to, or instead of, their personal characteristics. The results demonstrate contextual variation in the social construction of race, and underscore the important role that place plays in ‘making race’ in the United States.

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 Presented in Session 222. Spatial Effects on Partnering and Race