a1 Texas Tech University University of Twente, The Netherlands
a2 Western Washington University
According to the minority empowerment thesis, minority representation strengthens representational links, fosters more positive attitudes toward government, and encourages political participation. We examine this theory from a cross-national perspective, making use of surveys that sampled minorities in the United States and New Zealand. Both countries incorporate structures into their electoral systems that make it possible for minority groups to elect representatives of their choice. We find that in both countries descriptive representation matters: it increases knowledge about and contact with representatives in the U.S. and leads to more positive evaluations of governmental responsiveness and increased electoral participation in New Zealand. These findings have broad implications for debates about minority representation.
(Online publication November 28 2001)
(Received June 27 2003)
c1 Susan A. Banducci is assistant professor of political science and Faculty Director of the Earl Survey Research Lab, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-1015. She is also Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Governance Studies, University of Twente, The Netherlands (firstname.lastname@example.org).
c3 Jeffrey A. Karp is assistant professor of political science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-1015. He is also Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Governance Studies, University of Twente, The Netherlands (email@example.com).