Research documenting disparities in political participation across racial and ethnic groups (in particular lower levels of participation for Blacks and Latinos, compared to Whites) has primarily focused on broad explanations for racial and ethnic differences in participation (e.g., socio-economic status, social, or psychological resources). There is little research that links racial and ethnic differences in participation across issues to the literature on issue publics and issue-specific factors that may motivate participation. In this study, we examine racial and ethnic differences in participation for a variety of issues and test a model in which issue-specific motivators of participation (self-interest, racial or ethnic group interest, attitude importance, and policy change threat) and general explanations for participation differences (e.g., socio-economic status, political knowledge) account for these racial and ethnic differences. In particular, the results of a survey of Chicago residents show that Blacks, Latinos and Whites demonstrate significant differences in political participation across five issues (affirmative action, immigration, school funding, gentrification, the Iraq War), but that the specific pattern of racial and ethnic differences in participation varies across issues. Issue-specific factors help to explain why racial and ethnic differences in participation vary across issues above and beyond variables shown to be associated with participation more generally (e.g., political efficacy, education). This model has the potential to be expanded and applied to help explain other types of disparities in political participation.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 10, 2015
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