The Politics of the Mundane

The Politics of the Mundane

By Roberto F. Carlos, University of Georgia

Extensive research on political participation suggests that parental resources strongly predict participation. Other research indicates that salient political events can push individuals to participate. I offer a novel explanation of how mundane household experiences translate to political engagement, even in settings where low participation levels are typically found, such as immigrant communities. I hypothesize that experiences requiring children of Latinx immigrants to take on “adult” responsibilities provide an environment where children learn the skills needed to overcome the costs associated with participation. I test this hypothesis using three datasets: a survey of Latinx students, a representative survey of young adults, and a 10-year longitudinal study. The analyses demonstrate that Latinx children of immigrants taking on adult responsibilities exhibit higher levels of political activity compared with those who do not. These findings provide new insights into how the cycle of generational political inequality is overcome in unexpected ways and places.

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