Political Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 237-264

First online:

Ethnicity and political participation: A comparison between Asian and Mexican Americans

  • Pei-te LienAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, University of Florida

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What is ethnicity and how does it matter for political participation? Previous research has shown that the participatory disparity of Asian Americans, as different from Latinos, cannot be explained with sociodemographic and group consciousness variables. Adopting the view of a growing body of scholars who think ethnicity is an evolving rather than a static phenomenon, this study proposes multidimensional measures of ethnicity for two immigrant groups. Reexamining part of the 1984 data set that contains a unique oversampling of Asian and Mexican Americans in California, it is found that the two groups, despite a huge socioeconomic gap, bear similar ethnicity and participation structures. For both groups, acculturation increases participation; attachment to homeland culture does not necessarily discourage participation; and the role of group consciousness is much more complex than previously conceived.