What Makes a Good Neighbor? Race, Place, and Norms of Political Participation
by Allison P. Anoll, Vanderbilt University
Social norms and social pressure matter a lot for political participation, but do all communities in the United States face the same pressures to get involved? Using original survey data and a survey experiment, I find that on many dimensions of civic participation, racial minorities are even more committed to the American ideal of self-governance than Whites. Minorities are more likely to see political activities as a way to care for their community and help people in need and more likely on average to provide social rewards to those who are active in politics. These rewards are strongest among Black Americans who live in co-racial neighborhoods and Latinos living in areas dense with foreign-born residents. The findings suggest that context, race, and place are important factors for explaining and potentially driving American political engagement at scale. Specifically, strong commitments to democratic participation among non-Whites likely helps minority communities overcome the inevitable costs and challenges involved in participating in politics.