Latinos and the U. S. Political System: Two-Tiered Pluralism

Latinos and the U. S. Political System: Two-Tiered Pluralism

Latinos and the U. S. Political System: Two-Tiered Pluralism

Latinos and the U. S. Political System: Two-Tiered Pluralism

Synopsis

Bringing together political science research on Latinos and an analysis of American politics from the vantage point of the Latino political condition, Rodney Hero presents a comprehensive discussion of contemporary Latino politics. The distinct and tenuous nature of Latino status in the U. S. has made it difficult to explain their unique status. This "uniqueness" stems from a variety of circumstances, including the differences among Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans, and their ambivalent racial classification (white but not "Anglo," or nonwhite but not black). Hero introduces the concept of "two-tiered pluralism," which describes the political situation for Latinos and other minorities in which equality is largely formal or procedural, but not substantive. He observes that this formal but marginalized inclusion exists for minorities in most facets of the political process. In his critical overview of American politics, Hero explores the major theoretical perspectives that have been used to understand Latino "cultural politics"; he contrasts the three largest Hispanic population in this country; and he considers major political activities and American institutions with specific reference to Latinos. This timely work addresses the politics of an increasingly important segment of the U. S. population and an area in which previous research has been scant. Author note:Rodney E. Herois Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Excerpt

Latino politics has not been studied extensively. This book brings together the political science research that has been undertaken in an effort to understand Latino politics within the larger U.S. political context and U.S. politics from the vantage point of the Latino political condition. The book is generally structured along the lines of a conventional textbook in government because that format seemed most useful for the book's purposes. After presenting background issues in the first several chapters, the focus turns to major political activities and institutions of the U.S. political system, with specific reference to Latinos. In addition to presenting and summarizing basic issues and research findings, the book addresses normative and theoretical issues throughout. The work culminates in a chapter that synthesizes the discussion and offers an interpretation I call two-tiered pluralism.

Chapter 1 introduces a number of background points and broad issues, underscoring the significance, and the difficulty, of studying Latino politics; these points and issues guide much of the subsequent discussion. Chapter 2 provides an overview of major theoretical perspectives that have been used in seeking to understand U.S. politics generally and Latinos and the rest of U.S. society more specifically. The perspectives include pluralism, coalitional bias, and internal colonialism. The chapter examines the different views in terms of their assumptions and arguments, differences and similarities, strengths and weaknesses, discussing specific aspects of the U.S. political system that are particularly significant for Latinos and other minorities from the standpoint of their relevance to the theoretical perspectives and their general impact. This chapter introduces the idea of two-tiered pluralism.

Chapter 3 provides historical overviews of the three major Latino groups -- Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans -- comparing . . .

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