African American House Members and Representation

in Going Home

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780226241302
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226241326 | DOI:
African American House Members and Representation

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This chapter discusses two prominent themes: change for African Americans as a group; and diversity among its elected members of Congress. The ongoing group struggle during the civil rights era has sometimes been written about in terms of the diverse aspirations, activities, and accomplishments of individual black representatives. Questions about inclusion revolve around getting, keeping, and evaluating representation for the nation's largest racial minority. Questions about influence have centered on the impact of the African American minority on the political life of the country. Linkage questions have focused on the relationships of responsiveness and accountability between black elected officials and their separate constituencies. Member–constituency linkages may be forged out of policy preferences, personal contact, constituency service, symbolic activity, or group identities. Recent scholarly research has focused on policy linkages and the match between the policy preferences of constituents and the policy votes of their House members. These studies pay special attention to the relationship among the race of the member, the racial makeup of each district, and member voting patterns. Political science research within these three subject areas—inclusion, influence, and linkage—has given three windows on African American members of Congress.

Keywords: African Americans; civil rights; political life; Congress; policy linkages

Chapter.  4112 words. 

Subjects: US Politics

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