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The Paradoxes of Integration

Race, Neighborhood, and Civic Life in Multiethnic America

The United States is rapidly changing from a country monochromatically divided between black and white into a multiethnic society. The Paradoxes of Integration helps us to understand America’s racial future by revealing the complex relationships among integration, racial attitudes, and neighborhood life.

J. Eric Oliver demonstrates that the effects of integration differ tremendously, depending on which geographical level one is examining. Living among people of other races in a larger metropolitan area corresponds with greater racial intolerance, particularly for America’s white majority. But when whites, blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans actually live in integrated neighborhoods, they feel less racial resentment. Paradoxically, this racial tolerance is usually also accompanied by feeling less connected to their community; it is no longer "theirs." Basing its findings on our most advanced means of gauging the impact of social environments on racial attitudes, The Paradoxes of Integration sensitively explores the benefits and at times, heavily borne, costs of integration.

See the web appendix referenced in the book.

216 pages | 43 line drawings, 2 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Political Science: American Government and Politics, Race and Politics

Sociology: Race, Ethnic, and Minority Relations, Social Change, Social Movements, Political Sociology


 “J. Eric Oliver makes an important new contribution to the scholarship of racial politics, offering a detailed analysis of the simultaneous impact of neighborhood and metro-wide racial attitudes and paying careful attention to the various racial groups that make up communities. The Paradoxes of Integration is an original and revealing account that explores social capital, racial difference, and residential contexts in order to illustrate the contradictions between integration and intergroup tensions in contemporary American society.”

Susan Welch, Pennsylvania State University

The Paradoxes of Integration represents an important advance in scholarship on America’s increasingly pluralistic cities. Oliver explores both the neighborhood and metropolitan effects of residence patterns for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, whites, and Latinos. This broadens the efforts of previous work that focused on black and white relationships somewhat removed from the realities of our multi-ethnic society. The original and much-needed focus of this book, which includes shining the spotlight for one of the first times on the attitudes of Asian and Latino Americans, succeeds in thinking more carefully about and drawing greater attention to racial and ethnic differences, as well those geographical and political.”

Jan E. Leighley, University of Arizona

 "A glance at the newspaper headlines of the day—the achievement gap among Black and Latino students, controversies over the 9/11 Memorial, anti-immigration legislation—all suggest that J. Eric Oliver’s central thesis that “the future of race in America is fundamentally tied to place” will hold true. This book promises to reshape scholarship on race and politics toward broader conceptualizations and theories, and it will no doubt spark much-needed debate and deliberation on the effectiveness of racial integration policies."—Urban Affairs Review

Urban Affairs Review

“The Paradoxes of Integration is a coherently organized and insightful book and its arguments are convincing. I strongly recommend it to urban sociologists and students of race, ethnicity, and intergroup relations—already practicing scholars as well as those in the making.”

American Journal of Sociology

Table of Contents


Introduction: Place and the Future of American Race Relations

Chapter 1. Why Place Is So Important for Race

Chapter 2. Racial Attitudes among Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and Asian Americans

Chapter 3. Neighborhood- and Metropolitan-Level Differences in Racial Attitudes

Chapter 4. Geographic Self-Sorting and Racial Attitudes

Chapter 5. Interracial Civic and Social Contact in Multiethnic America

Chapter 6. The Civic and Social Paradoxes of Neighborhood Racial Integration

Chapter 7. On Segregation and Multiculturalism

Appendix A: Data Sources





APSA Urban and Local Politics Section: Dennis Judd Best Book Award

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