Event Title

African-American Political Efficacy: An Examination of the Influence of the 2008 Election

Faculty Mentor

Maria Aysa-Lastra, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Anthropology

Location

DIGS 222

Start Date

20-4-2018 2:45 PM

Description

Political efficacy is a measure of a person’s understanding of the government and how much s/he feels that s/he can influence political affairs. People who have high levels of both internal (understanding) and external (influence) efficacy are more likely to participate in a variety of political activities that include voting. In a democratic society, it is important that citizens have high levels of efficacy so that they feel that their voices matter. Because of the history of racial discrimination in the United States, African-Americans have had lower levels of efficacy and trust in government than Caucasians in the past. However, the recent election of this country's first African-American president provides a reason for updated research on the political efficacy of African-Americans in the United States. Previous research has shown that people feel more efficacious after a candidate that they support wins an election, and that African-Americans, particularly, feel a stronger sense of group efficacy than other ethnic groups in the United States. This paper will investigate whether or not the political efficacy of African-Americans has increased after the election of President Barack Obama. Using data from the American National Election Survey, this question will be explored at the national level for all African-Americans; in addition, this paper will also explore if substantial changes in measures of political efficacy vary by region. After examining this, there will be a discussion on ways to increase political participation among those who were historically kept out of the process.

Course Assignment

SOCL 516 – Aysa-Lastra

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Apr 20th, 2:45 PM

African-American Political Efficacy: An Examination of the Influence of the 2008 Election

DIGS 222

Political efficacy is a measure of a person’s understanding of the government and how much s/he feels that s/he can influence political affairs. People who have high levels of both internal (understanding) and external (influence) efficacy are more likely to participate in a variety of political activities that include voting. In a democratic society, it is important that citizens have high levels of efficacy so that they feel that their voices matter. Because of the history of racial discrimination in the United States, African-Americans have had lower levels of efficacy and trust in government than Caucasians in the past. However, the recent election of this country's first African-American president provides a reason for updated research on the political efficacy of African-Americans in the United States. Previous research has shown that people feel more efficacious after a candidate that they support wins an election, and that African-Americans, particularly, feel a stronger sense of group efficacy than other ethnic groups in the United States. This paper will investigate whether or not the political efficacy of African-Americans has increased after the election of President Barack Obama. Using data from the American National Election Survey, this question will be explored at the national level for all African-Americans; in addition, this paper will also explore if substantial changes in measures of political efficacy vary by region. After examining this, there will be a discussion on ways to increase political participation among those who were historically kept out of the process.