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Cognitive Maps of Class and Ethnic Inequalities A Comparative Analysis

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In a previous study, Bell and Robinson (1980) developed an Index of Perceived Inequality to investigate the cognitive maps of class and racial inequalities held by adults in England and the United States. This present study used the Index to examine the perceptions of inequalities of unemployed young adults. The sample included 355 20-year-old unemployed Australians from three groups that were labeled as Anglo Australian, English Australian, and non-Anglo Australian. When the findings were compared with the results of the earlier study they indicated that the American, Anglo-, and English-Australians had significantly stronger perceptions of class inequality than the English respondents. Also, the Americans and the young adults from the three Australian groups all perceived more racial/ethnic inequality than the English sample. As in the previous study, however, the results suggested that the young adults did not have particularly strong perceptions of class and ethnic inequalities. Support was provided for the proposition that many disadvantaged people may not perceive their society to be particularly unequal.


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