Democracy in Immigrant America: Changing Demographics and Political Participation

By S. Karthick Ramakrishnan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

Are the Newcomers Exceptional? The Applicability of Traditional Models to Immigrant Political Participation

Citizens of higher social and economic status participate more in politics. This generalization has been confirmed many times in many nations. And it generally holds true whether one uses level of education, income, or occupation as the measure of social status.

Sidney Verba and Norman Nie

Socioeconomic theories have long been the cornerstone of political participation studies. However, these studies are incomplete and particularly unsuited to explaining behavior found within immigrant minority communities.

Wendy Tam Cho

Voting is the least costly and most widespread form of political participation in the United States. Yet voting participation is by no means a universal act. In recent elections, participation rates in presidential elections have hovered between 50 and 60 percent, while voting in midterm elections has dipped below the 40 percent mark. Given that about one- half of the voting-eligible population does not participate in elections, the question naturally arises as to why this is so. Scholars of American politics have devoted considerable attention to the question of who votes and who does not participate in electoral politics. Studies of electoral participation in the past two decades have tended to emphasize one or more of the following sets of factors: (1) demographic characteristics and individual resources related to socioeconomic status, (2) the incorporation of individuals into social networks, (3) institutional bar

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