Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and Their Political Identities

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Asian Americans are a small percentage of the U.S. population, but their numbers are steadily rising—from less than a million in 1960 to more than 15 million today. They are also a remarkably diverse population—representing several ethnicities, religions, and languages—and they enjoy higher levels of education and income than any other U.S. racial group. Historically, socioeconomic status has been a reliable predictor of political behavior. So why has this fast-growing American population, which is doing so well economically, been so little engaged in the U.S. political system? Asian American Political Participation is the most comprehensive study to date of Asian American political behavior, including such key measures as voting, political donations, community organizing, and political protests. The book examines why some groups participate while others do not, why certain civic activities are deemed preferable to others, and why Asian socioeconomic advantage has so far not led to increased political clout. Asian American Political Participation is based on data from the authors’ groundbreaking 2008 National Asian American Survey of more than 5,000 Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, and Japanese Americans. The book shows that the motivations for and impediments to political participation are as diverse as the Asian American population. For example, native-born Asians have higher rates of political participation than their immigrant counterparts, particularly recent adult arrivals who were socialized outside of the United States. Protest activity is the exception, which tends to be higher among immigrants who maintain connections abroad and who engaged in such activity in their country of origin. Surprisingly, factors such as living in a new immigrant destination or in a city with an Asian American elected official do not seem to motivate political behavior—neither does ethnic group solidarity. Instead, hate crimes and racial victimization are the factors that most motivate Asian Americans to participate politically. Involvement in non-political activities such as civic and religious groups also bolsters political participation. Even among Asian groups, socioeconomic advantage does not necessarily translate into high levels of political participation. Chinese Americans, for example, have significantly higher levels of educational attainment than Japanese Americans, but Japanese Americans are far more likely to vote and make political contributions. And Vietnamese Americans, with the lowest levels of education and income, vote and engage in protest politics more than any other group. Lawmakers tend to favor the interests of groups who actively engage the political system, and groups who do not participate at high levels are likely to suffer political consequences in the future. Asian American Political Participation demonstrates that understanding Asian political behavior today can have significant repercussions for Asian American political influence tomorrow.
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About the author

JANELLE WONG is associate professor of political science and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California and director of the Institute of Public Service at Seattle University. S. KARTHICK RAMAKRISHNAN is associate professor of political science at the University of California, Riverside. TAEKU LEE is professor of political science and law at the University of California, Berkeley. JANE JUNN is professor of political science at the University of Southern California.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Oct 1, 2011
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Pages
392
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ISBN
9781610447553
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Civics & Citizenship
Political Science / Political Process / General
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
Social Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Over the past four decades, the foreign-born population in the United States has nearly tripled, from about 10 million in 1965 to more than 30 million today. This wave of new Americans comes in disproportionately large numbers from Latin America and Asia, a pattern that is likely to continue in this century. In Transforming Politics, Transforming America, editors Taeku Lee, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, and Ricardo Ramírez bring together the newest work of prominent scholars in the field of immigrant political incorporation to provide the first comprehensive look at the political behavior of immigrants.Focusing on the period from 1965 to the year 2020, this volume tackles the fundamental yet relatively neglected questions, What is the meaning of citizenship, and what is its political relevance? How are immigrants changing our notions of racial and ethnic categorization? How is immigration transforming our understanding of mobilization, participation, and political assimilation? With an emphasis on research that brings innovative theory, quantitative methods, and systematic data to bear on such questions, this volume presents a provocative evidence-based examination of the consequences that these demographic changes might have for the contemporary politics of the United States as well as for the concerns, categories, and conceptual frameworks we use to study race relations and ethnic politics.

Contributors Bruce Cain (University of California, Berkeley) * Grace Cho (University of Michigan) * Jack Citrin (University of California, Berkeley) * Louis DeSipio (University of California, Irvine) * Brendan Doherty (University of California, Berkeley) * Lisa García Bedolla (University of California, Irvine) * Zoltan Hajnal (University of California, San Diego) * Jennifer Holdaway (Social Science Research Council) * Jane Junn (Rutgers University) * Philip Kasinitz (City University of New York) * Taeku Lee (University of California, Berkeley) * John Mollenkopf (City University of New York) * Tatishe Mavovosi Nteta (University of California, Berkeley) * Kathryn Pearson (University of Minnesota) * Kenneth Prewitt (Columbia University) * S. Karthick Ramakrishnan (University of California, Riverside) * Ricardo Ramírez (University of Southern California) * Mary Waters (Harvard University) * Cara Wong (University of Michigan) * Janelle Wong (University of Southern California)

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As immigration from Asia and Latin America reshapes the demographic composition of the U.S., some analysts have anticipated the decline of conservative white evangelicals’ influence in politics. Yet, Donald Trump captured a larger share of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 election than any candidate in the previous four presidential elections. Why has the political clout of white evangelicals persisted at a time of increased racial and ethnic diversity? In Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, political scientist Janelle Wong examines a new generation of Asian American and Latino evangelicals and offers an account of why demographic change has not contributed to a political realignment.

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