Details

Racial cleavages in political interest

by Block, Elmer Ray.

Abstract (Summary)
Political interest (the degree to which citizens profess awareness of, are curious about, or pay attention to politics) is an essential topic in the study of democratic participation; however, many assumptions about political interest remain unexamined. Some of these assumptions deal with the impact of race on interest in politics. One way to study the e¤ect of race is to observe di¤erences in expressions of political interest among racial groups. This dissertation, therefore, uses public opinion surveys to compare the level of political interest between African Americans (or “Blacks”) and Anglo-Americans (or “Whites”). First, my research considers the conceptualization and measurement of political interest. Second, I analyze the impact of race on political interest as a dependent variable. Finally, my dissertation examines interest in politics as a racialized independent variable predicting political action. The results from the analyses point to intriguing racial di¤erences in political interest. Chapter 2 examines the e¤ect of subtle changes in questionnaire design on the interpretation of political interest over time. I …nd that such changes do not bias interest trends as much as the experimental literature suggests, and I devote the remainder of my dissertation to examining racial di¤erences in the amount of political interest shown by Blacks and Whites. By analyzing interest levels over time, Chapter 3 reveals that Whites tend to be more interested in politics than Blacks are. This racial gap in political interest is attributable to societal-level shifts in racial tolerance. ii In Chapter 4, I study the interaction of race and political interest and its e¤ect on political behavior. I …nd that race determines the strength of the relationship between political interest and political participation. Speci…cally, the link between interest and participation is stronger for Whites than it is for Blacks. Chapter 5 concludes the dissertation by discussing the implications of these …ndings for our understanding of race as a central concept in American politics, for the future of political interest scholarship, and for contemporary debates over how best to mobilize an allegedly apathetic society. iii
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:blacks whites race political participation

ISBN:

Date of Publication:

© 2009 OpenThesis.org. All Rights Reserved.