Political Science: The State of the Discipline II

By Ada W. Finifter | Go to book overview

than the social programs of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society ( Roger 1988, 318).

Petersen, assuming a lack of "Americanness" on the part of Japanese Americans, attributed their success to their links "with an alien culture" ( Petersen 1966 quoted in Roger 1988, 319). Roger contends that once the "insidious theme" of the "model minority" concept took hold, it has been perpetuated by a host of conservative publicists and academics, particularly the conservative black economist Thomas Sowell (p. 318). Critics of this concept argue that it misleads society into believing that discrimination against Asians has not been extensive or, if it existed, it is a thing of the past. (Even though rejected by scholars of Asian-American politics, the "model minority" concept is emerging, in the work of Thomas Sowell [ 1975, 1978] and other conservative scholars, as the new ethnic politics approach against which to measure the political progress of blacks and Latinos. As with the original ethnic politics model, this one is almost certain to be soundly rejected by black politics scholars as well.)

Part IV: Inter-minority Group Relations: Coalition or Competition?

The various subfields have developed separately but in parallel fashions. Black politics as the oldest field has formed the comparative base for the fields of Latino, American Indian, and Asian-American politics. While in many instances the comparisons have proved useful, in many more instances, the differences in historical relationships with the dominant white community and the resultant governmental structure have yielded very different experiences and different political objectives and behaviors.

However, the similarities in status have led to a great deal of research on the potential for political coalitions between various groups, principally blacks and Latinos ( Henry 1980; Sonenshein 1990; Muñoz and Henry 1990). The assumptions of the coalition research is that the relationship between these two groups will be one of mutual respect and shared political goals and ideals. In some instances, status similarities have led to coalition politics between blacks and Latinos. The emphasis on poverty issues in the 1960s promoted unions between blacks and Latinos, particularly Mexican Americans ( Estrada et al. 1981), and there is ample indication of coalition building between blacks and Latinos (see Browning, Marshall, and Tabb 1984, 1990).

Over time, nevertheless, the policy preferences of the two groups diverged. Policies designed to foster equal access and equity were often in conflict; Falcon ( 1985), for example, notes that blacks were concerned with desegregation and were not supportive of bilingual education because they feared a diversion of resources from black concerns. Recently, blacks have not been supportive of issues that Latinos have considered important -- the "English Only Movement," employer sanctions, and immigration reform. These policy differences, as well as the increasing tensions present in many urban communities, have resulted in a pattern of interaction between the various minority groups that is one of conflict, confrontation, and competition, rather than coalition. This competition, rather than stemming from status differences, is the product of status similarities of the two groups, both striving for finite political and social resources. This set of dynamics has spawned a small, but increasing, array of research on the possible competition that may arise between blacks and Latinos when each has different goals, when there is distrust or suspicion between the two groups, or when the size of one group is such that it becomes unnecessary to form coalitions with other minority groups to gain political success ( McClain 1993; McClain and Karnig 1990; Falcon 1988; Warren, Corbett, and Stack 1990; Meier and Stewart 1990).

Coalition behavior, therefore, can be viewed as situational and cooperative activities between two or more distinguishable groups with their own political resources who share similar conditions, experiences, and agendas. Coalitional efforts, accordingly, are specific, focused, and usually short-lived. Thus another line of research is to explore the conditions under which coalitions form, how they function, and what outcomes are achieved, examining not just the common objective that initiated the coalition but the establishment of networks across groups for future coalitional efforts ( Jackson and Preston 1991; Guerra 1987).


We now return to our initial question -- What is the status of racial minority group politics in political science? Overall, we must conclude that the fields of black, Latino, American Indian, and Asian-American politics are continuing to develop, albeit at different rates and with different emphases. In brief summary, each field may be characterized, historically and contemporarily, by a set of critical concepts, pressing issues, and methodological controversies.

Black politics research in its first generation focused on the interaction of economic factors and race, as well as the importance of blacks to the politics of the South, northern urban centers, principally Chicago, and styles of leadership exhibited within black communities. The second generation research was dominated by the


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Political Science: The State of the Discipline II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Theory and Method 1
  • 1: Texts and Canons: The Status of the "Great Books" in Political Theory 3
  • Conclusion 21
  • Notes 22
  • Bibliography 23
  • 2: Political Theory in the 1980s: Perplexity Amidst Diversity 27
  • Notes 43
  • Bibliography 43
  • Additional Bibliography 46
  • 3: Feminist Challenges to Political Science 55
  • Notes 72
  • Bibliography 73
  • 4: Formal Rational Choice Theory: A Cumulative Science of Politics 77
  • Concluding Comments 97
  • Notes 98
  • Bibliography 101
  • 5: The Comparative Method 105
  • Conclusion 116
  • Notes 117
  • Bibliography 117
  • 6: The State of Quantitative Political Methodology 121
  • Conclusion 148
  • Notes 148
  • Bibliography 150
  • Political Processes and Individual Political Behavior 161
  • 7: Comparative Political Parties: Research and Theory 163
  • Conclusion 183
  • Notes 184
  • Bibliography 185
  • 8: The Not So Simple Act of Voting 193
  • Notes 213
  • Bibliography 214
  • 9: The New Look in Public Opinion Research 219
  • Notes 240
  • Bibliography 240
  • 10: Expanding Disciplinary Boundaries 247
  • Conclusion 269
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 271
  • 11: Citizens, Contexts, and Politics 281
  • Conclusion: Putting the Puzzle Back Together 299
  • Bibliography 300
  • 12: Political Communication 305
  • Conclusions 323
  • Bibliography 324
  • Political Institutions of the State 333
  • 13: Legislatures: Individual Purpose and Institutional Performance 335
  • Conclusions: Behavior, Institutions, and Theory 354
  • Notes 357
  • Bibliography 357
  • 14: Public Law and Judicial Politics 365
  • 15: Political Executives and Their Officials 383
  • Conclusion 402
  • Bibliography 403
  • 16: Public Administration: The State of the Field 407
  • Notes 423
  • Bibliography 424
  • Nations and Their Relationships 429
  • 17: Comparative Politics 431
  • Conclusion 443
  • Notes 444
  • Bibliography 446
  • 18: Global Political Economy 451
  • Conclusion 474
  • Notes 476
  • Bibliography 477
  • Conclusions 483
  • Conclusions 503
  • Notes 504
  • Bibliography 505
  • Appendix 511
  • Contributors 513
  • Index of Cited Authors 517


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