“Mostly Rich White Men, Nothing in Common”: Latino Views on Political (Under) Representation in the Trump Era

Cristina Mora, Julie A. Dowling, Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The idea of U.S. democracy rests on the assumption that all citizens will see their issues and needs reflected in elected officials. Yet, historically this has not been the case, as racialized minorities have been excluded and systematically marginalized from the representative process. Today, nonwhite populations remain significantly underrepresented in federal and state governments. Although scholars have examined the effects and mechanics of ethnoracial political representation, less is known about how individuals from minoritized populations perceive and make sense of political (under)representation. Drawing on a novel data set of 71 in-depth interviews with Latinos in the Chicagoland area and the San Francisco Bay, this article examines Latino understandings of representation. Our findings show that respondents view Latinos and other “people of color” as largely underrepresented amid an exceedingly white federal government. Yet Latino sentiments on the issue go beyond race, as respondents contend that class and a record of experience advocating on behalf of immigrant and working-class communities also matters for feeling represented by elected officials. Our findings make a case for bridging the sociological literature on racialization and political theories on representation, and have implications for understanding broader notions of political belonging and government trust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1180-1192
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume65
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Latinos
  • elected officials
  • government
  • political representation
  • racial politics
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

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