Date of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. John A. Clark

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin Corder

Third Advisor

Dr. Peter Wielhouwer

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Joseph Stewart


Race, ethnicity, coalitions, Latino-Black coalitions


Ethnic and racial groups are increasingly challenging the African-American-White dichotomy that has historically characterized race relations in the United States. In an increasingly multiracial/multiethnic society, the question of racial and/or ethnic cooperation is an important aspect of the larger American political process. This study examines what attitudes will lead to increased support for coalition building between African-Americans and Latinos. The research questions are: what are the attitudes that are likely to produce strong coalitions between Latinos and African-Americans? Conversely, what attitudinal barriers stand in the way of potential multiethnic coalitions? There are four sets of limitations that could affect support for coalition building: perceived competition, societal constraints that serve to pit minorities against each other, lack of agreement on issues, and differential perceptions of coalitions. Using regression and structural equation modeling, this study looks at each group of limitations in detail in order to understand the characteristics of people who succumb to the limitation compared to those who would not. After an analysis of these three groups of limitations at the individual level, they are tested at a macro level to determine if that is how the actual respondents see the variables as fitting together.

This research identified several trends. Perhaps the most important finding emphasizes the difference between these two groups. While the same “stuff” matters to each group, it matters in different ways. Additionally, this study illustrates that the way previous research has thought about how these different variables fit together may be flawed and quite different in the real world. Another finding is the effect of the diverse experiences not only of both groups, but also of the subgroups within each group that contribute to various attitudes on coalition building. One of the most consistent findings of this research is the role of education and employment in influencing minority group attitudes.

One of the most fruitful areas for coalition building this research identified is among those who have higher levels of education and who are employed. Increased education consistently is associated with more tolerant points of view, increased recognition of structural factors that can influence minority success, and greater issue agreement. One prescription, then, for people who try to form coalitions between these two groups, is to focus on those with higher levels of education and to attempt to increase the overall levels of education for members of these groups. Additionally, people who are employed overall seem to be more willing to work with members of other groups, evaluate them more positively, perceive less competition, and be more likely to align on issues. It may be that one way to pursue coalition building among these two groups is by economically elevating both populations, instead of focusing on specific subpopulations of both groups that may be more supportive of coalition efforts. By identifying these portions of each population, potential coalition builders would likely have the most success.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access