Not too long ago Ann Morning (Sociology, NYU) published an article that is relevant for philosophers (and others) interested in empirical studies on ordinarily conceptions of race in America: Morning, Ann. 2009. "Toward a Sociology of Racial Conceptualization for the 21st Century." Social Forces 87(3): 1167-1192. Abstract:
Despite their longstanding interest in race, American sociologists have conducted little empirical research on sociodemographic patterns or longitudinal trends in “racial conceptualization” – that is, notions of what race is, how races differ, and the origins of race. This article outlines key empirical, methodological and theoretical considerations for a research agenda on racial conceptualization. Drawing on in-depth interviews with more than 50 college students, I describe the variety of race concepts among respondents, illustrate the importance of using multiple measures of conceptualization, and demonstrate the malleability of conceptualization, linking it to demographic context and thereby raising the question of its future evolution in the changing United States of the 21st century.