New! Comparison of Field Demographics

On the discussion board, daveo is concerned that D&D is “a field of privilege”: “largely a white, left leaning” community that “speaks of inclusion through dialogue but excludes those who don’t ascribe to the same value system or who aren’t already somehow insiders.” Caroline Lee’s field research has found that practitioners frequently discuss the field’s non-representativeness with regards to race and ethnicity and political background, usually in terms of the implications of exclusion for “walking the talk.” Francesca Polletta’s research looks at the implications of gender representation in the field (both among practitioners and those being engaged), which tends to be discussed among practitioners less often. At practitioner conferences, audience response systems are used to survey plenary session demographics, and typically find demographic distributions within a few percentage points of what we found in our survey.

The survey gives us an opportunity to compare the demographics we found in the 2009 D&D Practitioners Survey  to the U.S. population and other reference groups. The charts below compare the gender, racial and ethnic background, and political perspective of survey respondents to the U.S. population. For the sake of comparison, we have also included data on the U.S. professariate in order to gauge how D&D practitioners compare to another group that is known for skewing “liberal.”

Among U.S. respondents in our survey sample, men are underrepresented as compared to the U.S. population.

Among U.S. respondents in our survey sample, whites are overrepresented as compared to the U.S. population. African-Americans and Asians were represented in our survey sample at about half the rate of the U.S. population; those who selected Hispanic or Latino ethnicity were underrepresented by a factor of 5 as compared to the U.S. population.

Having trouble reading this chart? Click on the image for a larger view.

Compared to the U.S. population, the D&D practitioners in our survey indeed skew toward the liberal end of the political spectrum. The D&D practitioners in our survey skew about as liberal as full-time college professors in the U.S. (we had nearly twice as many select “very” liberal, but it is hard to know how much this had to do with the social undesirability of the “extremely” adjective used in PAPS), but are much less likely than college professors to be conservative. If the two liberal categories and the two conservative categories are collapsed, the ratio in Gross and Simmons’ survey of conservative to liberal college professors is 1:3. Among U.S. practitioners, our survey found a ratio of conservative to liberal D&D practitioners of 1:32; among all practitioners, our survey found a ratio of 1:21 (since the political spectrum in the U.S. doesn’t make much sense internationally, we have presented the data on U.S. practitioners here).

Click on the image if you would like a larger view. Want to discuss these findings? Go to the discussion page here. Return to the top of this page here.

More data on the surveys we use for comparison is available at the following websites. The American Community Survey is administered by the U.S. Census Bureau. The American National Election Studies are conducted by Stanford University and the University of Michigan, with funding from the National Science Foundation. The Politics of the American Professoriate Survey was conducted by sociologists Neil Gross and Solon Simmons.

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