SOCI 381 12/10/2010
To see a black man and a white woman walking down the street holding hands used to be unheard of. It was a relationship that, for the few who engaged in it, was kept as quiet as possible. During the fifties and sixties, interracial dating was not socially acceptable and there were repercussions for those who were involved in such behaviors because various laws, such as the Jim Crow laws, which kept the different races/ethnicities separate and it was seen as extremely socially deviant to go against these rules. Between 1970 and 2000, rates of interracial marriage increased more than seven-fold. Yet, little is known about the dating relationships between people of different races, particularly when it comes to analysis of who is most likely to become involved in such a relationship and for what reasons. Rates of interracial romantic relationships, especially interracial marriages, have often been seen as an indication of the social distance between racial and ethnic groups in a society (Vaquera and Kao 2007). Additionally, attitudes toward such relationships have been viewed as an indicator of the overall state of race relations (Yancey 2001). By this measure, it would seem apparent that the social distance between racial and ethnic groups has decreased markedly and the current status of race relations has sharply improved in the forty years since the Loving v. Virginia case declared laws prohibiting interracial marriage unconstitutional. Since the 1967 decision, the percentage of marriages that are between two people of different races or ethnicities has increased from 0.7% of all marriages in 1970, to 5.4% in 2000 (Lee and Edmunston 2005). Interracial dating and marriage are fairly new socially acceptable concepts that have been introduced into our society, but as time has progressed, more of these types of relationships are becoming prevalent.
For many individuals there are multiple factors that play a significant role in determining the types of people they will date or consider marrying, such as the other person’s attractiveness, personality or personal preferences. The purpose of this study is to see which factors, in particular, influence how a person feels towards interracial relationships and whether or not certain factors influence a person’s decision to enter an interracial relationship. Specifically, I felt that there were certain factors that would be important in a person’s willingness to engage in an interracial relationship. These factors consisted of parent/family input, age, race, gender, religion, political affiliation, personal background and education level, with some of these factors weighing more heavily than others. I will also examine the attitudes towards interracial dating, especially with respect to how each individual perceived society’s view on interracial relationships, and whether or not the views of society impacted each person’s individual dating behavior. At the conclusion of the study, I hope to contribute to the existing literature regarding interracial dating and marriage. In addition the literature I will discuss more ways how people choose or do not choose to date/marry interracially rather than just the patterns that are seen in marriage licenses, as in the previous research. Overall, I hope that the findings from this research project will provide more diverse information than what is presently cited in the research literature today, as I plan to investigate the factors that influence a person's willingness to engage in an interracial relationship and not just the trends that have been seen in interracial relationships.
Very little past research has analyzed the predictors of entering into interracial romantic relationships,...