Past Event

Racial Social Norms Among Brazilian Students: Whitening, Social Status and Performance

February 6, 2020
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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802 International Affairs Building

The Brazil Research Seminar will kick off again this semester with Alysson Portella’s presentation. Join us for one more semester of knowledge in these sessions!

The abstract of Portella’s research:

We investigate the relationship between students’ social status and grades in Brazil, and how it differs between racial groups. Using data from students’ friendship networks and their grades, we find no evidence favoring an “acting white” interpretation of this relationship in Brazil, as both white and nonwhite students observe a positive correlation between same-race social status and grades. However, brown and black students observe a strong positive correlation between social status among other-race classmates and grades, while this relationship is concave for whites. We interpret these findings as manifestation of Brazil’s “whitening” ideology: on the one hand, as grades improve, nonwhite students are more willing to form social ties with whites and/or white students are more willing to reciprocate ties from nonwhites; on the other hand, white students tend to socially interact more with nonwhite students when they have lower scores, replacing these social ties with more white students friendships when their grades surpass a certain level. Heterogeneity checks suggest that the “whitening” ideology is stronger in settings with larger shares of white students and higher levels of racism.