Ellen Chapin

Department of Political Science

White Out: Using Surveys to Study White Nationalism, Identity, and Erasure

White identity politics are at the forefront of discussions of American political behavior, particularly around when and how identity can create in-group solidarity among white Americans. However, little scholarship examines less benign forms of white identity, particularly support for whiteness at the extreme—in particular, white nationalism. My research seeks to fill that gap in the literature by presenting a theory around group position and white nationalist orientation. Tracing American whiteness’s historical ties to exclusivity and dominance, I develop a new measure to test the prevalence of support for tenets of racial nationalism in white Americans through a series of surveys. In testing the measure’s validity and implications, I examine whether fear of group status loss—a concept I define and measure as fear of “white erasure” – is a strong predictor of white nationalist orientation. I hope my study will represent the first step in the development of an academically rigorous discussion of white nationalism, its origins, and its spread.

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