Racial regularities: Setting-level dynamics as a source of ethnic-racial socialization

Diane L. Hughes, Jon Alexander Watford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A substantial literature has focused on how ethnic-racial socialization from parents shapes youths' racial identities and the meanings they attach to their own and others' racial group membership. We argue that a critically important source of information to youth about the meaning and significance of race, and therefore a key source of ethnic-racial socialization, resides in youths' exposure to repeated patterns in the relative social experiences, opportunities, roles, and outcomes experienced by two or more racial groups across levels of the ecological environment. Drawing on Seidman's concept of a “social regularity” we propose the concept of a “racial regularity” to name, describe and define pervasive and repeated intergroup patterns that youth observe through their daily transactions across settings. Additionally, drawing from the socio-cognitive developmental literature, we consider why and how racial regularities may inform youths' racial knowledge. Finally, we illustrate our perspective using existing ethnographies of racial dynamics in schools and neighborhoods vis-à-vis youths' racial knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-17
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of community psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • ethnic-racial identity
  • ethnic-racial socialization
  • parenting processes
  • race and schooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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