Political Representation, Coalitions, and Gender

Jason P. Casellas

in Latino Studies

ISBN: 9780199913701
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Political Representation, Coalitions, and Gender

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  • History of the Americas
  • US Cultural History


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The study of Latino politics began with comparisons to racial and ethnic politics, first in the urban setting; then, as more data sets became available, scholars turned to political behavior and public opinion research. More recently, however, scholars have begun to consider Latino political representation in legislative institutions, as well as coalition building with other racial and ethnic minorities as well as Anglos. Effective representation is essential to democratic stability, and as the Occupy movement and Tea Party movement indicate, citizens have become disaffected by what they consider to be the lack of representation. Latinos are descriptively underrepresented in nearly all institutions of power. In the words of Browning, Marshall, and Tabb, Latinos are not as politically incorporated as their numbers would suggest. This means they are not at the decision-making table in numbers that are necessary for effective representation. Scholarship on representation has noted the extent to which descriptive representation matters for substantive representation. In addition, we should be attentive not only to demographic explanations for increased representation, but also to the extent to which institutions matter for fostering the conditions under which Latinos and other disadvantaged groups can have better probabilities of winning in districts. This can involve the formation of coalitions with other groups, a strategy that has yielded mixed results. For example, in school board districts, blacks and Latinos were not always uniting to elect candidates of choice. As immigration increases, there is some evidence that whites and blacks are forming coalitions to address Hispanic growth. In addition, more scholars have attempted to consider the public opinion attitudes and political participation rates of Latinas. More research is needed to examine the role of Latinas with regard to how they are involved in the political process and their election to legislative bodies. This bibliography will therefore consider the latest theoretical and empirical contributions to the study of Latino representation, Latinos in coalitions, and Latinas in the political process. The overriding theme that emerges from consideration of the literature is that Latino representation is an ongoing process that will take time to fully develop. Coalitions with other groups have yielded some benefits to Latino communities, but these are ephemeral and can unravel at any time. Latinas are more involved than ever in politics, and this is a positive development, especially when they are representing districts with diverse constituencies.

Article.  4019 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; US Cultural History

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