Chinese Americans' Ethnic Identity and Its Dynamic with Political Engagement
Scott, Jamil S.
Chinese Americans, as a subgroup of Asian Americans, have lower levels of political participation, while having higher levels of educational attainment and a higher socioeconomic status. This inconsistency challenges the traditional political participation theory, which holds that political participation rates are higher among the wealthy and better-educated than among the disadvantaged.The current literature fails to elaborate on the root of this mismatch. Most literature illustrates the heterogeneity in Asian Americans, but does not delve deep into each subgroup to examine their motivations for political participation separately. Therefore, in this thesis, I focus on Chinese Americans to explore why they do not fit the traditional theoretical model for political participation. Most Chinese Americans have preferences for maintaining cultural and language attachments to their national origin that are distinct from other subgroups of Asian Americans. From this perspective, I argue that Chinese Americans’ ethnic identity colors their political participation. Specifically, Chinese Americans value their ethnic identity and are more likely to engage in politics when they identify more strongly with their ethnic identity. In addition, ethnic identity also impacts Chinese Americans’ party preference. With that being said, Chinese Americans are more likely to identify with the Democratic party when they have a salient identity. To investigate this argument, I employed an observational quantitative study. The regression results, however, demonstrate no relationship between Chinese Americans’ ethnic identity and their political participation, or their party preference. Consequently, more research is still needed to fill this theoretical gap in the study of minority political participation.
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