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The Social and Political Participation of Black Americans: Compensatory and Ethnic Community Perspectives Revisited

Christopher G. Ellison and Bruce London
Social Forces
Vol. 70, No. 3 (Mar., 1992), pp. 681-701
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2579749
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2579749
Page Count: 21
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The Social and Political Participation of Black Americans: Compensatory and Ethnic Community Perspectives Revisited
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Abstract

Two competing approaches to the study of black social and political participation - the compensatory and ethnic community perspectives - have dominated attempts to explain the relatively high levels of collective involvement within the black population. One of the main limitations of research in this area has been its weak treatment of the meaning and measurement of compensatory theory. The erroneous belief that blacks had disproportionately low self-esteem was widely held at the time that this theory was developed. Therefore, unlike most previous researchers, we use a measure of low self-esteem to operationalize compensatory behavior. In contrast to the equivocal findings of several previous studies, our results are clear: the ethnic community approach receives strong support, while the compensatory approach finds virtually no support.

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