Clark, April K.
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of Political Science
Social changes such as an expansion of minority rights, demographic shifts that effectively create a majority-minority nation, along with concerns related to America’s immigration practices and increasing globalization pose threats to the established status hierarchies in the United States, or, at least, some citizens perceive this to be the case. Status threat occurs when members of a dominant group believe their privilege, dominance, or way of life is under threat.
Perceived status threat has been shown to trigger conservative views and behaviors, including vote choice and policy preferences, especially among White Americans. However, much remains unknown regarding the influence of status threat on explaining differences in voter turnout and political participation, in general. I seek to fill the gap in the literature by considering the possibility that increasing perceptions of status threat – i.e. individuals that believe newer lifestyles are contributing to the breakdown of our society – is important for explaining differences in political participation. Specifically, I argue that higher levels of perceived status threat among Republicans mobilized voter turnout in the 2016 general election, as well as other conventional forms of political participation, such as: influencing others to vote; attending political meetings or rallies; working for a party or candidate; displaying a political button or sticker; and donating to a campaign or political party.
The results illustrate that, among Republicans, higher levels of perceived status threat is positively associated with political participation. In other words, Republicans expressing higher levels of status threat politically participated more than those exhibiting lower levels of status threat. This research suggests that status threat, indicated by the perceived threat of new lifestyles, mobilized Republicans to participate at higher rates, an outcome reinforced by the status threat rhetoric of political candidates, such as former President Donald Trump.
Epping, Cassandra, "A Threat to Participate: The Impact of Status Threat on Political Participation - Republicans in 2016" (2022). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 7011.
Northern Illinois University
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