Perceived Constituency Linkages and Dimensions of Representation among Racial Minorities in Subnational Levels of Office
28 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 10 Dec 2015
Date Written: August 26, 2011
This research seeks to understand the implications of the increased presence of women and men of color in elected offices for improving the political representation and well-being of the intersectionally disadvantaged. Our study explores the contours, interrelations, and impacts of the descriptive and symbolic dimensions of representation through the perceived constituency linkages reported by the representatives themselves. Focusing on the attitudes and opinions of the representatives themselves, we explore how their perceptions of constituencies may be influenced by personal background and values which, in turn, may influence their concepts of representational role, evaluations of descriptive representation, and policy opinions on protecting minority rights. Our data come from the 2006-2007 Gender and Multicultural Leadership survey, which is a large-scale telephone survey of African American, Latino, and Asian American male and female elected officials serving at subnational offices as state legislators, county commissioners, mayors or city/town council members, and local school board members. The richness of this one-of-a-kind dataset enables us not only to empirically study the dimensions of representation from the perspectives of women and men of color serving at the subnational levels of office themselves, but to help deconstruct the complexities of the relationships from the intersecting angles of race, gender, and level of office.
Keywords: political representation, constituency linkage, racial minorities, state and local officials
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