Racial solidarity and political participation

Dennis Chong*, Reuel R Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Studies conducted in the 1960s and 1970s generally confirmed that racial group solidarity boosted rates of participation among African Americans. But since the 1980s, research has tended to conclude that the effect of solidarity on voter turnout among blacks and other minorities has moderated if not faded entirely. We hypothesize that part of this observed decline is explained by a dilution of measures of group solidarity in recent studies. We argue that a fair test of racial solidarity requires using a comprehensive measure that incorporates both psychological "identification" and the ideological beliefs that comprise "consciousness." Moreover, we hypothesize that the effects of solidarity, will vary across forms of participation and be greatest on political activities that require group coordination. Our re-analysis of the 1984 NBES using separate measures of identification and consciousness indicates that the more narrowly circumscribed measures of these concepts used in recent studies are likely to have underestimated its influence on political participation. We show that racial identification and consciousness had a modest effect on voting turnout in 1984, but a significant influence on participation in several traditional campaign activities, petitioning government officials, and especially participation in protests and boycotts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-374
Number of pages28
JournalPolitical Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005


  • Group consciousness
  • Minority politics
  • Political participation
  • Racial and ethnic politics
  • Racial identification
  • Racial solidarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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