This provocative study of the Latino political experience offers a nuanced, in-depth, and often surprising perspective on the factors affecting the political engagement of a segment of the population that is now the nation's largest minority. Drawing from one hundred in-depth interviews, Lisa García Bedolla compares the political attitudes and behavior of Latinos in two communities: working-class East Los Angeles and middle-class Montebello. Asking how collective identity and social context have affected political socialization, political attitudes and practices, and levels of political participation among the foreign born and native born, she offers new findings that are often at odds with the conventional wisdom emphasizing the role socioeconomic status plays in political involvement.
Fluid Borders includes the voices of many individuals, offers exciting new research on Latina women indicating that they are more likely than men to vote and to participate in political activities, and considers how the experience of social stigma affects the collective identification and political engagement of members of marginal groups. This innovative study points the way toward a better understanding of the Latino political experience, and how it differs from that of other racial groups, by situating it at the intersection of power, collective identity, and place.
List of Illustrations
1. Latino Political Engagement: The Intersection of Power, Identity(ies), and Place
2. Legacies of Conquest: Latinos in California and Los Angeles
3. A Thin Line between Love and Hate: Language, Social Stigma, and Intragroup Relations
4. Why Vote? Race, Identity(ies), and Politics
5. Community Problems, Collective Solutions: Latinos and Nonelectoral Participation
Conclusion. Fluid Borders: Latinos, Race, and American Politics
Appendix A: Study Respondents
Appendix B: Interview Questionnaire
Lisa Garcia Bedolla is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
"With depth and nuance, Garcia Bedolla explores how the dynamics of immigration have affected political socialization, attitudes, and practices, as well as levels of political participation among Latinos and Latinas in Los Angeles. In so doing, she has produced an important and insightful contribution to the study of Latina/o politics."—Edwina Barvosa-Carter, Assistant Professor of Social and Political Theory, Department of Chicana/o Studies, UC Santa Barbara
"Drawing upon an impressive number of in-depth interviews, Lisa García Bedolla intriguingly demonstrates how Latino perceptions of social stigma shape collective identities, social networks, and forms of political mobilization. Her respondents engage questions about political marginality and empowerment in complex and nuanced ways that strikingly reveal how class, gender, and generation constitute significant categories of difference among Latinos."—Michael Omi, co-author of Racial Formation in the United States
"Fluid Borders is an important book in the evolving literature on Latino politics and race and politics. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, García Bedolla details the attitudes and actions of two contrasting Latino communities in Los Angeles. Never losing sight of the visible class differences that exist between the two communities, García Bedolla also explores other significant factors such as collective identity, foreign-born status and political socialization in what is truly an insightful intersectional analysis. Through her lucid writing and interviews, García Bedolla provides the reader with depth and texture, greatly enhancing our understanding of Latino politics."—Cathy Cohen, author of The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics
"Fluid Borders is a rich and fascinating book, overturning many of the preconceptions social scientists have held about the relationship between economic and linguistic assimilation and political mobilization. It is sure to spark lively debate and further study of its key themes of immigration, class, identity and politics."—Michael Jones-Correa, author of Between Two Nations: The Political Predicament of Latinos in New York City
Ralph J. Bunche Award, American Political Science Association
Best Book Awards - Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, American Political Science Association