Democracy in Immigrant America: Changing Demographics and Political Participation

By S. Karthick Ramakrishnan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5

From Newcomers to Settlers Immigrant Adaptation and Political Participation

As in other adjustments to the American environment, the second generation were the intermediaries. From the start, the children of the immigrants were more intimately implicated than their parents. The schools had acquainted them with the mechanisms of politics and had also imbued them with the conviction that government was susceptible to popular control and capable of serving popular interests.

Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted (1951)

So far, we have explored in considerable detail the extent to which traditional models of political participation account for voting among immigrants of different racial and ethnic groups. We have seen that standard models fare moderately well in explaining participation among immigrants, although the effects are generally weaker among first-generation immigrants than among those in the third and later generations. At the same time, other factors related to immigrant incorporation may also account for differences in voting among immigrants. Factors important to immigrant adaptation include those related to length of stay in the United States, characteristics of the immigrant's country of origin, and contexts of domestic settlement. 1

It has been hypothesized that many of these immigrant-related factors have significant effects, but these claims have not yet been systematically tested. For instance, some political theorists have voiced the concern that access to dual nationality lowers immigrant participation in U.S. politics. While the effect of dual nationality on citizenship ac

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