Paper presented at the 4th Annual Political Networks Conference, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, June 17-18.


In this paper I explore the underlying mechanisms of the changes in public discourse with respect to the issue of racial equality that have been observed in the United States over the course of its history, with a particular focus on the changes that occurred in the latter half of the twentieth century. Specifically, I provide a formal model of social interactions in which agents are assigned to non-homophilic networks, are heterogeneous with respect to preferences for equality between the races, and have preferences both to express their true preferences and to not appear deviant from the group. In a series of numerical experiments, results indicate that the probability of a transition in norms from an equilibrium around inequality to an equilibrium around equality is increasing in the size of the minority population and decreasing in the size of groups to which individuals are assigned.