Organizing for Political Voice: The Role of Community Organizations in Immigrant Political Incorporation

Other External Scholars:
Irene Bloemraad, University of California, Berkeley
Project Date:
Nov 2004
Award Amount:
Project Programs:

Most research on immigrant political life to date has focused on the relationship between an individual’s characteristics (educational attainment, language skills, etc.) and his/her political behavior. But this micro-level observation may obscure the impact of institutional structures and state policies on political participation. What role do organizations and institutions play in fostering political consciousness and involvement in new immigrant groups.


Irene Bloemraad has received funding from the Foundation to begin a comparative study of immigrant organizations in San Francisco and Vancouver, and the extent to which they provide recent arrivals from Portugal, Vietnam, and India with an alternative path to leadership and political voice. Bloemraad previously conducted a study of Portuguese and Vietnamese immigrants in Toronto and Boston, and found that the level of government involvement in the newcomers’ integration was a strong predictor of how much community organizing took place there. Vietnamese refugees, who received significant government assistance, developed a greater number and larger breadth of community organizations than the Portuguese, she found. This new study will test whether these results hold in areas outside of the east coast. The addition of immigrants from India will allow for analysis of the extent to which the organizational and political life of a more resource-rich immigrant community benefits from state support. Bloemraad will assess each community’s visibility by analyzing the news coverage of each in the local mainstream media.


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