Inclusionary Discrimination: Pigmentocracy and Patriotism in the Dominican Republic

Inclusionary Discrimination: Pigmentocracy and Patriotism in the Dominican Republic

Political Psychology
Volume 22, Issue 4 (December 2001)
pages 827–851
DOI: 10.1111/0162-895X.00264

Jim Sidanius, Professor of Psychology and African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Yesilernis Pena

Mark Sawyer, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Political Science
University of California, Los Angeles

This study explored the nature of racial hierarchy and the connection between racial identity and Dominican patriotism using a questionnaire given to an in situ sample in the Dominican Republic. The analyses compared the contradictory expectations of the “racial democracy” (or “Iberian exceptionalism”) thesis and social dominance theory. Results showed that despite the very high level of racial intermarriage in the Dominican Republic, there was strong evidence of a “pigmentocracy,” or group-based social hierarchy based largely on skin color. Furthermore, despite a slight tendency for people to give slightly higher status ratings to their own “racial” category than were given to them by members of other “racial” categories, this pigmentocracy was highly consensual across the racial hierarchy. These results were consistent with the expectations of social dominance theory. However, in contrast to similar analyses in the United States and Israel, these Dominican findings showed no evidence that members of different “racial” categories had different levels of patriotic attachment to the nation. Also in contrast to recent American findings, there was no evidence that Dominican patriotism was positively associated with anti-black racism, social dominance orientation, negative affect toward other racial groups, or ethnocentrism, regardless of the “racial” category one belonged to. These latter results were consistent with the racial democracy thesis. The theoretical implications of these somewhat conflicting findings are discussed.

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