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Minorities and Representation in American Politics

Minorities and Representation in American Politics

February 2016 | 448 pages | CQ Press
Minorities and Representation in American Politics is the first book of its kind to examine underrepresented minorities with a framework based on four types of representation—descriptive, formalistic, symbolic, and substantive. Through this lens, author Rebekah Herrick looks at race, ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities not in isolation but synthesized within every chapter. This enables readers to better recognize both the similarities and differences of groups’ underrepresentation. Herrick also applies her unique and constructive approach to intergroup cooperation and intersectionality, highlighting the impact that groups can have on one another. 

Chapter 1: Minorities and Representation
Who Are Minorities?: Race as a Category

Who Are Minorities?: Ethnicity as a Category

Who Are Minorities?: Gender and Sexual Minorities


Overview of the Book

Conclusion: Similarities, Differences, and Intersectionality in Representation

Chapter 2: Descriptive Representation and Minorities: Legislatures and Other Elective Offices
Levels of Descriptive Representation in Legislatures

Levels of Descriptive Representation in Executive Positions

What Affects Levels of Descriptive Representation?

Descriptive Representation is Not Sufficient

Conclusion: Similarities, Differences, and Intersectionality

Chapter 3: Minorities and Formalistic Representation: Laws, Institutional Design, and Elections
Formal Representation and the Right to Vote

Electoral Systems

Institutional Design

The Fourteenth Amendment

Conclusion: Similarities, Differences, and Intersectionality

Chapter 4: Policy Representation and Minorities in Legislatures
Key Minority Policy Interests

Does Descriptive Representation Lead to Substantive Representation?

What Affects Policy Representation?

Initiative and Referenda Effects on Minority Interests


Casework/Constituency Services and Pork Barreling by Minority Legislators

Conclusion: Similarities and Differences in Policy Representation

Chapter 5: Minorities and Symbolic Representation
Measuring Minorities' Attitudes

Levels of Symbolic Representation

What Affects the Symbolic Representation of Minorities?

Symbolic Legislation: Representing Minorities through Symbolic Actions

Conclusion: Decreasing Gaps in Symbolic Representation

Chapter 6: Minority Representation and the Judicial Branch
The Court Systems

Descriptive Representation: The Numbers Game

What Affects Descriptive Representation in the Judicial Branch?

Descriptive and Substantive Representation on the Courts

Key Court Cases

Conclusion: Improving Descriptive Representation but Mixed Record of Courts’ Protection of Minorities

Chapter 7: Representative Bureaucracy
The Influence of Bureaucrats on Policy

Level of Passive Representation

What Affects Passive Representation?

The Effects of Passive Representation on Active Representation

Conclusion: Similarities and Differences in Minority Representation in the Bureaucracy

Chapter 8: Public Opinion and Minority Interests
Attitudes Toward Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Attitudes Toward Women

Attitudes Toward LGBT Persons

Attitudes Toward Affirmative Action

Attitudes Toward LGBT Issues

Attitudes Toward Abortion

Attitudes Toward Immigration

Social Desirability Biases in Surveys

Influences on Americans' Attitudes Toward Minority Interests

Conclusion: Varied but Increasing Acceptance of Minorities and Their Issues

Chapter 9: Minority Groups and Political Resources
Size and Distribution of Minority Populations

The Voting Eligibility of American Minorities

The Socioeconomic Status of Minorities

The Civic Engagement of Minorities

Conclusion: Variation among Groups in Their Resources

Chapter 10: Acculturation, Group Consciousness, and Cohesion among Individuals with Shared Minority Status
Acculturation: The Extent to Which Minorities Are Part of the Dominant Culture

Group Consciousness: The Extent to Which Minorities See Group Status as Politically Important

Group Cohesion: Level of Shared Beliefs, Values, and Attitudes among Individual Minorities

Variation by Nationality

Effects of Acculturation and Group Consciousness on Voting Cohesion

Conclusion: Similarities, Differences, and Intersectionality among Minority Individuals

Chapter 11: Minorities and Political Participation
The Vote

Other Forms of Political Participation

Explaining Political Participation

The Impact of the Minority Vote

Efforts to Reach Minority Voters

Conclusion: Increased Participation and Power but Differences Remain among Groups

Chapter 12: Minority Movements and Interest Groups
The Civil Rights Movement

The Chicano Movement

The American Indian Movement

The Asian American Movement

Women's Movements

The LGBT Movement

Social Movement Theories

Interest Groups

Conclusion: Much Change since the 1950s

Chapter 13: Multiminority Coalitions and the Future of Minority Representation
Multiminority Coalitions

Views of the Masses

Coalitions among Elites

The Future: Trends in Representation

Minorities of the Future (Past and Present)

Final Thoughts: Should Minorities Be Lumped Together or Split into Different Groups?


Minorities and Representation in American Politics is the most comprehensive treatment of minorities in politics that I have ever read. Herrick is able to cover multiple minority groups and does it in a fashion that does not neglect any of the relevant points that need to be addressed in a book of this kind. The scope of the text is sweeping, and it has no rival on the market.”

Brian Frederick
Bridgewater State University

Minorities and Representation in American Politics comprehensively integrates discussion of race, gender, ethnicity, and intersectionality. In doing so, it facilitates the comparison and contrast of experiences of minority statuses far more effectively than other textbooks. The representational lens through which the text explores minorities in politics nicely ties together the different groups and themes, and Herrick does a great job of introducing relevant empirical research from inside and outside of political science.”

Ewa Golebiowska
Wayne State University

“Rebekah Herrick is able to highlight many interesting facets of the minority experience without overwhelming the reader. It is hard for me to believe that there is any other book out there that provides such a detailed, thoughtful analysis as Minorities and Representation in American Politics.”

Eduardo Magalães
Simpson College

“Herrick’s text provides a comprehensive examination of the distinctive minority groups within the U.S. political system and brilliantly navigates the intersectionality of gender and race/ethnicity with representation. While the book addresses many fundamental topics of minorities and covers a wide spectrum of the political institutions and behavioral aspects of representation in the United States, it also captures much of the recent scholarly debate and research in a way that remains accessible to the undergraduate.”

Karen Owen
Reinhardt University
Key features


  • Unique synthesis of material on race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation highlights the similarities and differences of groups’ underrepresentation and the ways in which their interests intersect
  • Gets to the heart of studying minorities in politics through a structure centered around issues of underrepresentation
  • Explores methodological issues in studying minorities and politics, offering students the critical understanding of research issues that are needed to fully and effectively participate in a democracy and avoid misinformation
  • A Spotlight feature in each chapter looks at minorities outside of the United States, providing international context and opportunity for comparison

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

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