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Electoral Politics Is Not Enough

Racial and Ethnic Minorities and Urban Politics

Peter F. Burns

Publication Year: 2006

Focusing on four medium-sized northeastern cities with strong political traditions, Electoral Politics Is Not Enough analyzes conditions under which white leaders respond to and understand minority interests. Peter F. Burns argues that conventional explanations, including the size of the minority electorate, the socioeconomic status of the citizenry, and the percentage of minority elected officials do not account for variations in white leaders’ understanding of and receptiveness toward African American and Latino interests. Drawing upon interviews with more than 200 white and minority local leaders, and through analysis of local education and public safety policies, he finds that unconventional channels, namely neighborhood groups and community-based organizations, strongly influence the representation of minority interests.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Electoral Politics Is Not Enough

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p. v

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pp. vii-ix

This project started with a general concern that government leaders lack awareness of and responsiveness to African American and Latino interests. It began in earnest on August 31, 1998 when Jim Gimpel and I attended a professional football game. I had just completed my comprehensive exams and only needed to write a dissertation to obtain a Ph.D. As usual, I asked ...


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p. xi

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1. Representation of Minority Interests

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pp. 1-10

The basic idea of representative democracy is that officeholders will respond to, promote, and protect the interests of their constituents. At the same time, we know that race and ethnicity play significant roles in politics. An important area of research has developed regarding how various political divides within minority communities as well as between whites and various peoples ...

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2. Variation among the Northeastern Cities

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pp. 11-40

The four Connecticut cities under investigation not only typify older, Northeastern cities but also vary according to the conventional and unconventional factors that may affect governmental responsiveness to racial and ethnic minority interests. New Haven probably comes to mind when most urban scholars, political scientists, journalists, and others think about Connecticut ...

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3. Awareness of African American and Latino Policy Preferences

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pp. 41-70

In a representative democracy, elected officials must understand their constituents’ concerns. The extent to which white and minority leaders agree on the issues of greatest concern to African Americans and Latinos, and how city leaders gain awareness of racial and ethnic minority interests provide great insight into conditions under which government responds to African ...

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4. Responsiveness to African American and Latino Interests

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pp. 71-94

African Americans and Latinos want city leaders to understand their concerns, but substantive representation remains their ultimate goal. Government’s ability to address constituent interests remains an essential aspect of a representative democracy. Leaders understand minority interests to the greatest degree in Bridgeport, but scarce resources may prevent officials from responding ...

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5. How African Americans and Latinos Gain Policy Responsiveness

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pp. 95-106

To this point, my research indicates that unconventional channels increase awareness of and receptivity to African American and Latino interests. However, it has yet to address how these unconventional means heighten awareness and governmental responsiveness. An investigation of Bridgeport helps answer these questions because African Americans and Latinos utilized unconventional ...

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6. Urban Regime Theory and the Representation of Minority Interests

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pp. 107-120

Government responds unevenly to African American and Latino interests. Within the four Connecticut urban areas under investigation, city leaders substantively represent African American concerns to a greater extent than they understand and address Latino interests. Representation of Latino and African American policy preferences differs across these four cities as well. In ...

Appendix A: List of Interview Questions

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pp. 121-130

Appendix B: List of Issue-Area Categories

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pp. 131-136

Appendix C: List of Interviews

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pp. 137-150


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pp. 151-170


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pp. 171-184


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pp. 185-192

E-ISBN-13: 9780791482261
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791466537
Print-ISBN-10: 0791466531

Page Count: 204
Illustrations: 1 map, 10 tables, 19 figures
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 76176092
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Electoral Politics Is Not Enough

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Representative government and representation -- United States.
  • Proportional representation -- United States.
  • African Americans -- Suffrage.
  • Hispanic Americans -- Suffrage.
  • Local government -- United States.
  • Minorities -- Political activity -- United States.
  • Sociology, Urban -- United States.
  • Political participation -- United States.
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