Political discussion and deliberative democracy in immigrant communities
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In this dissertation, I set out to build our understanding of how Latino immigrants learn to participate in and talk about politics in the United States. First, I develop a framework for analyzing political discussion from the perspective of social norms, and speculate about what may be the prevailing political discussion norms in the American public sphere. Next, I unite the literatures on political socialization, Latino and immigrant politics, and political discussion, along with scholarship on social groups and networks, to create a theoretical model for how Latino immigrants become socialized into a political system. I test this model with three empirical studies. In the first, I use quantitative survey data to test whether Latino immigrants report different sources of political socialization than the general population. The second study relies on qualitative interviews and focus groups with Mexican-heritage immigrants in Arizona and Washington aimed at their early and notable political experiences. The final study reports the results of a national quantitative survey of Mexican-heritage Americans and a comparison sample of whites. My key findings are that Latinos rely less on the traditional socializing influences of parents and teachers, and rely more on spouses, children, and the media. Many Latinos focus on learning about issues rather than debating in their political discussion, though those talking with other Latinos were open to arguing. Overall, I find notable differences in both the socialization channels and discussion norms between Latinos and whites in the U.S.
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