Identity in context [electronic resource] : how neighborhoods, churches and campaigns shape Latino unity
- Ali Adam Valenzuela.
- Physical description
- 1 online resource.
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|3781 2011 V||In-library use|
- Valenzuela, Ali Adam.
- Segura, Gary M., 1963- primary advisor.
- Laitin, David D. advisor.
- Sniderman, Paul M. advisor.
- Stanford University. Department of Political Science.
- Despite substantial and growing heterogeneity among the U.S. Latino population, what explains the concomitant growth of Latino group unity? In this dissertation, I argue that we can understand changes in Latino group unity with respect to changes in the demographic composition and political structure of American society. I review arguments for and against the existence of Latino unity and suggest that while real, individual Latino attachments to pan-ethnic, national and political identities depend on the context in which Latinos are embedded. Contextual variation conditions the receptivity of Latinos to various group identities. In three empirical chapters, I focus specifically on how demographic context, the closeness and conduct of elections, campaign and media messages, Latino language use, Catholic or other religious churchgoing, and group-based identity appeals influence the process by which ethnic and social identities, partisanship and party attachments are strengthened, made salient, and acted upon by individual Latinos. The central claim is that political incentives and institutional contexts where Latinos reside, worship and engage in politics help us to understand when and why Latinos feel strongly identified with their pan-ethnic group, to their American nationality, or with the two major parties. The overarching question that I seek to address is whether Latinos will follow a path of ethnic and political unity, despite gains in socioeconomic diversity, similar to the racial and political unity of African Americans, or whether Latinos will exhibit patterns of structural integration and intergenerational assimilation similar to those that led prior waves of ethnic white immigrants to shed their ethnic distinctions and blend into the political mainstream. Should we expect Latinos to retain their ethnic solidarity and Democratic partisanship, or adopt exclusively American identities and divided partisan loyalties? Together, the findings here advance the state of our knowledge about when and why Latinos choose to self-identify as American, as a member of their national ancestry group, or as part of a larger pan-ethnic group with shared political interests in the United States. This dissertation highlights how electoral competition, demographic context, religious churchgoing and group appeals mobilize Latino identity and help foster a sense of group unity. Ultimately, while group identities are real and often rooted in cultural practice, the conduct and structure of American politics also have an empirically verifiable role to play in processes of individual identity.
- Publication date
- Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
- Ph.D. Stanford University 2011
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