Close to Home: Place-Based Mobilization in Racialized Contexts

Close to Home: Place-Based Mobilization in Racialized Contexts

By Sally A. Nuamah, Northwestern University and Thomas Ogorzalek, Independent Scholar

How do racially concentrated policy changes translate to political action? Using official election returns, the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, and original data on the unprecedented mass closure of schools in segregated, predominantly Black neighborhoods across Chicago, we demonstrate that those living in the communities affected (1) increase their attendance at political meetings; (2) mobilize in support of ballot measures to avert future closings; and (3) increase their participation in the subsequent local election, while decreasing their support for the political official responsible for the policy on the ballot—at a higher rate than every other group. These findings shed light on how groups that previously participated at the lowest rates go on to participate at the highest rates on community issues that matter to them. We develop a theory of place-based mobilization to explain the role of “the community” in acting as a site of coidentification and political action for marginalized groups.

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