Does Ethnicity Matter? Descriptive Representation in Legislatures and Political Alienation Among Latinos*
Article first published online: 19 MAY 2003
Social Science Quarterly
Volume 84, Issue 2, pages 441–460, June 2003
How to Cite
Pantoja, A. D. and Segura, G. M. (2003), Does Ethnicity Matter? Descriptive Representation in Legislatures and Political Alienation Among Latinos. Social Science Quarterly, 84: 441–460. doi: 10.1111/1540-6237.8402014
- Issue published online: 19 MAY 2003
- Article first published online: 19 MAY 2003
Objective. This article uses a political empowerment approach to explore the effect that descriptive representation in legislatures has on levels of political alienation among Latinos.
Methods. Using data from the 1997 Tomás Rivera Policy Institute post-election survey carried out in California and Texas, supplemented with data on the ethnicity of legislators serving each respondent, we test this political empowerment thesis.
Results. The presence of Latino representatives in the state assembly, state senate, and/or U.S. House is associated with lower levels of political alienation among Latino constituents. The effect is modest, and we find that other factors—demographic, political, and ethnic-specific—also exert powerful influences on levels of political alienation among Latinos.
Conclusions. Although finding modest evidence for the political empowerment thesis, descriptive representation alone is not a panacea for creating politically engaged personas among Latinos.