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I’m Kaylee Johnson, a doctoral candidate, research assistant, and teaching assistant in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Welcome!

My research falls within the realm of political communication, class, and race. My dissertation project explores the ostensibly popular, inclusive, and race-neutral middle class identity, focusing on the extent to which it is racialized. I contend that the middle class identity is exclusive on the basis of race. Media depictions of the middle class as White help to shape and this racialization, which manifests in stark racial differences in middle class identification. Furthermore, politicians reinforce the identity’s racialization in their campaign advertisements, thereby sending racially-coded messages to citizens without appearing to discuss race at all. Messages like these therefore allow the middle class identity to serve as a racial prime, facilitating an implicit association of the middle class identity with Whiteness among citizens. As such, what appears to be an inclusive, catch-all identity is one that is racially restrictive, and may render the middle class trope problematic. Finally, a separate project deriving from my dissertation explores the potential efficacy of implicit and explicit racial priming, but with the appeal being to the majority racial in-group in the United States.

I have been published in Political Behavior, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. I also serve as a fellow on UMass Poll, and as a board member and graduate student administrator of UMass Women Into Leadership. My other research interests include political communication, women’s political behavior, and how elites communicate ideology with the public.

Outside of academia, I am an avid baker, constantly listening to music (especially 60s and 70s rock, and early 90s/early 00s alt). Feel free to drop me a message!