With an interdisciplinary social psychological perspective, Prejudice: Attitudes About Race, Class, and Gender examines the role of structural inequality and the cognitive dimension of prejudices. Bridging micro, mezzo and macro perspectives, this text considers the role of prejudice in individual cognition, in interaction between individuals and groups and its role in justifying inequality.
Von Bakanic is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She grew up hearing the vernacular terms for the many ethnic and immigrant groups that came to work in the industrial mills that lined the Allegany and Monongahela Rivers. She moved to Charlotte, North Carolina during her childhood where she had two new experiences. She learned she was a "Yankee", even though she was not from New England and she interacted with African Americans for the first time. History conspired to peak her interest in prejudices early in her life. She attended high school in Mecklenburg County during federally ordered school desegregation. She did her undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of South Carolina. There she met and married Floyd Roberts, a native of the South Carolina low country. From her new in-laws she learned that she would forever be "that Yankee gal he married" and that any norms she broke could be explained and forgiven by reference to the unfortunate location of her birth. Upon completing her master's degree, she took her family north to the frozen tundra of the Illinois plains to pursue a doctorate at the University of Illinois-Urbana. After several years of shoveling snow, her husband had only one condition for her first academic appointment -- it had to be in the south! Off they all went to the University of Southern Mississippi, where they learned there was more than one southern culture. Because she was an outsider in Mississippi, she noticed the prejudices expressed by the local population. They differed subtly from the ones she grew up with in Pittsburgh and in the Carolinas. That does not mean that the people of Mississippi had any more or any worse prejudices than people from other parts of the country. It was simply easier for her to recognize them as prejudices because they were different from her own. Mississippi has been rather hypocritically maligned in this regard. While at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Bakanic undertook her first study of prejudices. She and a small research team interviewed nearly 400 residence of Philadelphia Mississippi about their racial attitudes and how they remembered the infamous murders that occurred there during the civil rights era. In 1991 an opportunity to return to the South Carolina low country became available. Dr. Bakanic teaches at the College of Charleston and has expanded her study of prejudices to include gender prejudices, social class prejudices, regional and national prejudices and age prejudices. The topic continues to fascinate her both academically and personally. There is no shortage of subject matter in her area of interest. Despite the wide spread denial of prejudices, the expression of prejudices continues unabated.