Minority Voices: The Representational Roles of African American and Latino Legislators during State Legislative Deliberations
Hamm, Keith E.
Doctor of Philosophy
In this dissertation I systematically examine African-American and Latino legislator behavior in a legislative setting. The project specifically examines whether and how minority legislators represent and influence African American and Latino policy interests during the legislative process. I perform an analysis of minority legislator participation rates on bills and develop an original measure of substantive representation using patterns in legislative speech of state representatives’ language during committee hearings. I build on existing theory in the representation literature and offer new hypotheses for expanding the scope of how substantive representation is defined and investigated, namely through an empirical investigation of the link between deliberation and descriptive representation. Second, I collect an original data set and develop an original measure of substantive representation to test these hypotheses with participation rates and a linguistic frame based content analysis approach of minority and non-minority representatives’ language on bills for racial perspectives during state legislative committee hearings on several policy issue areas including, but not limited to education, healthcare, and immigration. Third, I offer a critical test of hypotheses to test whether African American and Latino representatives’ (1) participate more when the legislation is deemed minority interest in comparison to their non-minority counterparts? (2) their behavior (or deliberation style) is different from non-minority legislators? (3) impact the deliberation style of non-minority legislators? The analysis draws on original data collected through committee hearing tapes and online video archives of Texas committee hearings in multiple policy areas, and the findings indicate that minority legislators do indeed provide a voice for minority constituents, providing more minority interest language on minority interest bills in comparison to their non-minority colleagues, especially when the legislation is threatening to minority populations. These results support the argument that minority legislators do indeed substantively represent minority constituents at levels greater than non-minority representatives during the legislative process.
Substantive representation; Descriptive representation; Deliberation; Minorities; African Americans; More... Latinos; State legislators; Participation; Committee hearings; State politics; Education policy; Immigration policy; Public policy; State legislatures; Minority voices; Legislative studies; Race and ethnicity; Minority coalitions Less...