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Participation at the Margins: Is it Race or Class?

Опубликовано на портале: 19-05-2004
Zulema Theresa Blair
Научный руководитель: Andrew J. Milnor
Организация: State University of New York at Binghamton
Подтип: PhD
Тематические разделы: Социология, Экономическая социология, Экономическая социология: Социально-экономическая дифференциация. Бедность, Социальная стратификация

The act of voting represents many different things: democratic governance, public opinion, civic duty, attitudes, values, beliefs, resources, and more; yet, this act has been on a steady decline in presidential elections since 1960. Researchers have drawn significant conclusions as to why voter turnout has declined such as institutional barriers (registration laws), a decline in partisanship, and political attitudes such as political trust, political efficacy, and political interest. However, when these conclusions were drawn, most researchers analyzed the electorate as a whole rather than taken into account the differences in attitudes and beliefs, which is usually denoted by one's social class. As a result, this research seeks to take into account the class struggles that exist as differences in attitudes, values, and beliefs arise as a result of an individual's status in society. Although education and political interest were huge influences on voter turnout, when divided by class, race is a huge factor in determining the probability of an individual turning out to vote. Thus, race is a huge factor in influencing public opinion, how democratic U.S. governance is, and one's attitudes and beliefs; class is a huge factor also in predicting voter turnout within the black community. However, it is widely known that the probability of turning out to vote is very much different from actually turning out to vote. Consequently, I explored the values and the opinions of lower status individuals the ghetto underclass. Here I found that these individuals are not as likely to vote because they have completely detached themselves from the traditional political, economic, and social systems, or they have been disenfranchised. Nevertheless, the predicted electoral outcomes, suggests that there are contradictions between what needs to be done and what is actually occurring given that low-income individuals, particularly blacks, are less satisfied with their position in society than any their counterparts, and demands more. However, if they are hardly heard as their interviews suggest, decisions made by elected officials may not be to their advantage. This is problematic for any group, especially within a democratic nation.

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