Methods: Data are from the Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, an online cross-sectional survey (N=10,145) administered from December 2016 to February 2017. We measured political participation with a composite variable that included items for engaging elected officials and local governments. We measured social inclusion with a composite of two variables measuring the extent one felt they belonged and were valued in the U.S., and social exclusion a composite of two variables measuring the extent one felt excluded and like an outsider. We used multinomial logistic regression to estimate the associations.
Results: As feelings of belonging increase, the odds of not engaging in any form of political participation decrease (OR=.798) as compared to high participation. Hispanics have significantly higher odds of no (OR=2.815) and low (OR=1.683) political participation as compared to whites, as do African Americans (OR=1.823; OR=1.688) and Asians (OR=2.875; OR=1.975) when controlling for feelings of belonging. Those with higher feelings of exclusion have significantly higher odds of not engaging in any form of political participation (OR=1.459) or in low levels (OR=1.523) as compared to high participation. Hispanics have significantly higher odds of no (OR=3.384) and low (OR=1.989) political participation as compared to whites, as do African Americans (OR=2.281; OR=2.060) and Asians (OR=3.624; OR=2.417) when controlling for feelings of exclusion.
Conclusions and Implications: The more one feels they have a valued place in American society, the more active they will be in the political process. It follows that feelings of exclusion lead to little or no engagement in the political process. However, in both instances this phenomenon is exacerbated among racial and ethnic minorities. Minorities are less likely than whites to engage in political activities, and engagement is even lower when minorities experience social exclusion. This means that whites are more involved in community-level policy making processes that directly shape the lived experiences of minority populations. These data suggest the current political and social environment has suppressed minority participation in efforts to effect policy, and that minorities are less likely to engage in the very work that will decrease inequality. Our findings indicate that social workers need to develop strategies to engage minority populations in political action efforts and enhance feelings of belonging in American society.