RACIAL SOLIDARITY AND POLITICAL
Dennis Chong and Reuel Rogers
Studies conducted in the 1960s and 1970s generally conﬁrmed that racial group soli-
darity boosted rates of participation among African Americans. But since the 1980s,
research has tended to conclude that the effect of solidarity on voter turnout among
blacks and other minorities has moderated if not faded entirely.
We hypothesize that part of this observed decline is explained by a dilution of measures
of group solidarity in recent studies. We argue that a fair test of racial solidarity
requires using a comprehensive measure that incorporates both psychological ‘‘iden-
tiﬁcation’’ and the ideological beliefs that comprise ‘‘consciousness.’’ Moreover, we
hypothesize that the effects of solidarity, will vary across forms of participation and be
greatest on political activities that require group coordination.
Our re-analysis of the 1984 NBES using separate measures of identiﬁcation and con-
sciousness indicates that the more narrowly circumscribed measures of these concepts
used in recent studies are likely to have underestimated its inﬂuence on political
participation. We show that racial identiﬁcation and consciousness had a modest effect
on voting turnout in 1984, but a signiﬁcant inﬂuence on participation in several tra-
ditional campaign activities, petitioning government ofﬁcials, and especially partici-
pation in protests and boycotts.
Key words: racial solidarity; racial identiﬁcation; group consciousness; political par-
ticipation; minority politics; racial and ethnic politics.
The impact of group solidarity on political behavior ﬁrst began to draw
serious attention from political scientists in the mid-1960s and early 1970s in
studies that showed blacks participating in politics at higher rates than whites
of similar socioeconomic background (e.g., Orum, 1966; Verba and Nie,
1972). Researchers hypothesized that pronounced racial group solidarity
Dennis Chong, Department of Political Science and Institute for Policy Research, North-
western University, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL, 60208-10006, USA; Reuel Rogers,
Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, 601 University Place, Evanston, IL,
60208-10006, USA. (email@example.com).
Political Behavior, Vol. 27, No. 4, December 2005 (
0190-9320/05/1200-0347/0 Ó 2005 Springer ScienceþBusiness Media, Inc.