Latino Studies Latino Politics
Rodolfo O. de la Garza
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 January 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 19 March 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0001


This bibliography addresses eight major topics. It begins by locating research on Latino politics within the traditions of American political research. It then reviews theoretical attempts to explain Latino politics; describes major findings regarding subfields and specific themes such as values, partisanship, policy preferences and electoral behavior; and suggests numerous themes that need to be addressed. It should be thought of as the first installment of a much more comprehensive review of methods and topics that are central to an inclusive but specialized evaluation of Latino politics research. “Latino” is a collective label that includes individuals of all Latin American nationalities, particularly in the US context; the term came into use after 1980. Prior to that, Latin American groups were identified by nationality—for instance, as Mexican American, Puerto Rican, or Cuban. “Latino” may be used interchangeably with “Hispanic,” and the feminine form “Latina” is often applied to women and topics specific to them.

Researching American Politics

Continual social changes alter how the polity is studied. Pluralistic theory as developed in Dahl 1961 and elaborated in Fuchs 1990 reigned as the dominant paradigm that guided research on the American polity for decades. Comparably influential was the focus on individual-level behavioral analysis, as illustrated in Campbell, et al. 1960. As society has become continually more heterogeneous, the explanatory power of traditional pluralistic analysis has been severely diminished. Similarly, the development of significantly improved statistical and formal methodologies (e.g., Erikson, et al. 2002; Krehbiel 1998) and the creation in the 1980s of American political development (APD)—which, as Orren and Skowronek 2004 conceptualizes it, is the study of durable change in governing authority—have established new approaches that guide current research in American political science. This bibliography locates Latino political research within these research traditions.

  • Dahl, Robert A. Who Governs: Democracy and Power in an American City. Yale Studies in Political Science 4. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1961.

    This is the classic analysis arguing that pluralism explains how the American polity functions. Set in New England of the 1950s, it describes European intergenerational political mobility and access. Second edition published in 2005.

  • Campbell, Angus, Philip E. Converse, Warren E. Miller, and Donald E. Stokes. The American Voter. New York: Wiley, 1960.

    The path-breaking analysis of American electoral behavior. It spawned a new subfield of voting (and nonvoting) behavior.

  • Erikson, Robert S., Michael B. MacKuen, and James A. Stimson. The Macro Polity. Cambridge Studies in Political Psychology and Public Opinion. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

    A major analysis that consists of a unified model of political behavior that links topics such as public opinion, presidential support, voting, and partisanship.

  • Fuchs, Lawrence H. The American Kaleidoscope: Race, Ethnicity, and the Civic Culture. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1990.

    Fuchs argues that pluralism explains American political processes. His argument is supported by detailing the evolution of Latino and black struggles and his attention to the Voting Rights Act and the civil-rights movement.

  • Krehbiel, Keith. Pivotal Politics: A Theory of U.S. Lawmaking. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

    A powerful and accessible example of the value of using formal models to explain policymaking. Krehbiel shows that where issues are well defined and decision makers’ preferences are well ordered, a specific decision maker is shown analytically to be pivotal to the final policy choice.

  • Orren, Karen, and Stephen Skowronek. The Search for American Political Development. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511756269

    The source for understanding the objectives of APD. APD is premised on the realization that the polity is constructed over time, and that the nature and prospects of any single event will best be understood through the long course of political formation.

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