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The empirical study of political participation is approximately 30 years old. The earliest studies concentrated on explaining why some people chose to vote and others did not. Gradually, inquiries into political participation looked at other behavior such as campaigning, making financial contributions, attending meetings, and so forth. Most of these somewhat broader inquiries into political participation were embedded in studies of voting behavior (Berelson, Lazarsfeld, & McPhee, 1954; Campbell, Gurin, & Miller, 1954; Campbell, Converse, Miller, & Stokes, 1960; Lazarsfeld, Berelson, & Gaudet, 1944). As the findings began to accumulate from a variety of studies done in a variety of countries, it became possible for scholars to prepare summary statements of the findings with respect to political participation (Lane, 1959; Milbrath, 1965).
The impact of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) on black registration in Mississippi was dramatic. Black registration increased from 28,500 in 1965 to 406,000 in 1984. The influence of the VRA on black registration, however, varied across Mississippi counties. The impact of the VRA was especially evident in counties having a large number of unregistered blacks. The presence of a large number of unregistered blacks apparently stimulated a high level of civil rights activity, which then provoked federal intervention. Nevertheless, blacks are registered at lower rates than whites; blacks are less likely to vote than whites; and blacks are less likely than whites to be elected to public office.
Social science literature suggests two competing views of the effect of city size on black economic, political, and cultural development: (1) that as a consequence of big-city financial plight, “veto-group pluralism,” and size-engendered social disorganization, blacks will encounter greater problems in the nation's larger cities; (2) that due to greater heterogeneity, responsive political institutions, and other conditions, city size should facilitate black development. Examining 168 American cities over 25,000 in 1970, this study assesses the impact of city size on 28 indicators of black development. Findings show that even—with regional controls established, city size is significantly and favorably associated with over 20 of the development measures. Four likely explanations are advanced for the relationship between city size and black development: (1) black population size; (2) politicization and responsive institutions; (3) city centrality; and (4) interactions among aspects of black development.
The notion that at-large elections for city council seats are discriminatory toward blacks has recently been attacked as empirically invalid. Recent studies have reached conflicting conclusions as to whether electoral arrangements or socioeconomic factors are the major influence on how proportionately blacks are represented. This article addresses this issue, using a regression-based analysis in which proportionality is treated as a relationship across cities with electoral structure as a specifying variable. Socioeconomic variables found to be important in other studies are included. The results support the traditional notion and suggest that the electoral structure begins to have a discernible impact on the level of black representation once the black population reaches 10 percent of the total municipal population. While one socioeconomic variable, the relative income of the city's black population, is found to affect the election of blacks, its impact is greater than that of the electoral structure only when the black population is less than 15 percent.
In this paper, hypotheses about the conditions under which black candidates are elected to public office in the South are tested. Data are presented for county and municipal officeholders. The hypothesis that blacks are more likely to be elected when elections are at-large rather than by districts is tested. The relationship between proportion of blacks in the constituency and the election of blacks is explored. Finally, the likelihood that black-governed counties will have the resources to significantly improve the conditions of their constituents is discussed.
Recently “indirect effects,” “isolation,” and “ethnic community” arguments have been offered to explain the political participation rates of black Americans. Each of these theories is criticized on the basis of both contemporary and historical evidence and because of the severely limiting assumptions underlying the arguments. In their stead, a political climate theory of participation is presented as a defensible alternative. Historical support is offered, underlying assumptions are discussed, and alternative methods of testing the thesis are suggested.
After the drastic relaxation of voter registration requirements in the 1960s, do present state laws keep people away from the polls? More specifically, which provisions have how much effect on what kinds of people? We have answered these questions with data from the Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau in November 1972. State registration laws reduced turnout in the 1972 presidential election by about nine percentage points. The impact of the laws was heaviest in the South and on less educated people of both races. Early deadlines for registration and limited registration office hours were the biggest impediments to turnout. Contrary to expectations, changing these requirements would not substantially alter the character of the electorate. The voting population would be faintly less affluent and educated; the biggest difference would be a matter of one or two percentage points. In strictly political terms, the change would be even fainter–a gain for the Democrats of less than half a percent.
Cities of the deep South are distinctive because they are at once influenced by a con sistently large black population and a history of discrimination. This study seeks to identify and measure the significant causal variables that affect black representation in cities of three southern states. Blacks are greatly underrepresented, but changes are occurring and black representation is increasing. This situation requires person-to-person data gathering for accuracy. The results show that equitable representation for black citizens in southern cities depends heavily on the method by which the city governing body is elected. The at-large selection systems used by two-thirds of the cities have a negative impact on black representation. The percentage of black population is highly significant as a positive causal variable. Socioeconomic variables appear less important but are difficult to evaluate. A speculative finding that election method affects southern black political participation makes this variable especially important to equitable representation of the black citizen in the southern city.
We look at the relationship between a congressional district's black and Hispanic population proportion and the likelihood of election of black or Hispanic candidates. We show that black and Hispanic gains appear to be due to an increase in the number of districts with substantial minority population, rather than to any change in the willingness of nonminority voters to support minority candidates. In contrast to earlier work we focus on the importance of the combined minority (black plus Hispanic) population as a determinant of minority electoral success.
Drawing on the findings of Orum (1966) and Olsen (1970), this study hypothesizes that, because of a process of "compensation" or "ethnic identification," members of disadvantaged ethnic groups have higher levels of social and political participation than persons of the same social class who are members of the dominant social group. Data taken from a community survey only partially support the hypothesis with regard to 11 participation variables. When social class is controlled, black levels of participation generally exceed or equal those of whites; however, levels of participation among Mexican-Americans tend to be lower than those of whites. Several explanations which might account for these discrepant findings are discussed.
Studies of passive representation of minorities in urban educational systems are infrequent and generally limited to looking at blacks on school boards or on faculties. This analysis, using data drawn from a survey of large, urban U.S. school districts and from school district-level Census files, examines the levels and determinants of black representation among school board members, school administrators, and teachers. Insights are gained on the politics of black representational equity in these important positions. We specify empirically the linkage between passive representation among these three sets of urban education policy-makers. The findings suggest the political importance of the representativeness of elites, especially in urban school districts, and stimulate thinking about paths to more successful affirmative action plans.
Using data from 168 central city school boards, this study examines the impact of different selection plans (at-large, mixed/ward, and appointive) on the relationship between Blacks' resources (numbers, money, and organization) and Black electoral success. Findings suggest that the use of an "at-large" selection system impedes the conversion of Blacks' resources into Black school board seats. (JDH)
The study of political elites has a long and honorable history among students of politics. The recent surge of interest in the politics of the so-called “developing societies,” however, has given elite studies yet a new raison d'etre because elite recruitment patterns are particularly good indicators of development and change, precisely the phenomena most in evidence in the “developing world.” Many of those who investigate modernization, in fact, consider the transformation of elite recruitment patterns the central feature of the whole modernization process. Cyril Black, for example, identifies “the transition from a political leadership wedded to the traditional system to one that favors thorough-going modernization,” as “the central problem in political modernization.” David Apter suggests that a “comparative study of modernization begins in the comparison of strategic career profiles in relation to stratification.” And S. N. Eisenstadt argues that “modernization is borne or pushed by ‘charismatic’ groups or personalities,” so that “to understand the process of modernization and especially the extent to which it creates the condition for sustained growth,” it is necessary to “analyze exactly these relations between the innovating groups and the broader institutional setting.”
Courts, the Justice Department, and civil rights groups have charged that staggered terms dilute minority political influence. This assertion is examined in the dual contexts of state senates and city councils. Neither bivariate nor multivariate analyses find use of overlapping terms to be associated with less representation of blacks in senates or southern municipalities. The percent black in the polity translates into black representation at about the same rate in staggered and nonstaggered systems. That staggered terms have been incorporated into the laundry list of discriminatory elements in the absence of comprehensive data raises troubling questions about the policy development process.
This article investigates the financing of the campaigns of black candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. Although incumbent black candidates receive lower levels of campaign contributions than their white counterparts, analysis of expenditure data shows that their campaigns are adequately funded, with most of them winning by large margins and retaining modest surpluses. Black challengers, however, are substantially underfunded and are rarely able to conduct competitive campaigns. The implications of this incumbent-challenger financial disparity for the accountability and responsiveness of members of Congress representing black constituencies are discussed.
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