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date: 30 June 2022

Race, Ethnicity, and Political Behaviorlocked

Race, Ethnicity, and Political Behaviorlocked

  • Aida JustAida JustDepartment of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University

Summary

Whether as a consequence of colonialism or more recent international migration, ethnic diversity has become a prominent feature of many contemporary democracies. Given the importance of ethnicity in structuring people’s identities, scholars have sought to incorporate ethnicity in their models of people’s political behavior. Studies focusing on individual support for group interests among ethnic minority members find that higher socioeconomic status generally leads to a reduced emphasis on ethnicity in forming individual political opinions. However, this relationship is often considerably weaker among ethnic minorities with frequent experiences of discrimination, pessimistic assessments of equal opportunities in a country, and social pressures from group members to comply with group norms. Research also shows that in comparison to majority populations, members of ethnic minorities are generally less active in politics, more likely to use contentious forms of political action, and support left-wing political parties that promote minority interests. Key explanations of differences between ethnic minorities and majorities in Western democracies focus on the importance of individual and group resources as well as political empowerment via representation in policymaking institutions, usually enabled by higher shares of minority populations within electoral districts.

Subjects

  • Groups and Identities
  • Political Behavior

Updated in this version

Updated and revised portions of the main text. References added and updated. Minor correction made in the section ‘Methodological Issues’ and throughout paper for clarity. Revised suggestions for future research.

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