1.1 Definition of political participation
Political participation has taken on a series of definitions depending on the author or the context. However, for purposes of this paper, political participation will refer to lobbying, convincing others to vote, protesting, voting and related activities. Usually, one of the most prominently used measures of political participation is the amount of people who turn out to vote; in other words, voter turnout. (Tippet, 2007)
There have been a number of reasons available to justify why voter turnout is low among certain groups and much higher in others. For instance, when a country opts to use personalized contact to inform people about the need to vote, then chances are that that country will register high voter turnout. The latter method usually entails visiting potential voters from door to door. Less effective methods include pre-recorded phone messages usually known as robo-calls. (Lilla, 2007)
In certain instances, political participation may be impeded by a citizen’s lack of awareness on the details surrounding voting. For example, some may not know how to use voting machines or the location of voting centers. Consequently, this impedes their participation. Additionally, people may record low political participation because of certain cultural factors. For instance, it is likely that immigrant communities and ethnic communities may lack the basic language skills required to understand messages from political interest groups. Such persons may require translators and this makes them less effective in achieving their goal.
However, perhaps another more valid cultural factor is a group’s beliefs and values. When these beliefs do not fall in line with politically related ones, then it is likely that these groups may record lower voter turnout. In this case, the most outstanding factor is religion because it forms the basis for most belief systems. (Austin, 2008)
Lastly, low political participation may be caused by missing elements in the political system of a certain country. It is possible to find that certain countries may encourage only certain members of their community to take part in politics while others may be prevented from pursuing this because no one has bothered with them. These groups normally lack models from which they can borrow from thus making them isolated. However, for purposes of this paper, greater emphasis will be placed on the influence of religion on political participation.
1.2 Research question
The research question is: Does religion effect political participation by Latino citizens in the US?
This question can be further divided into three major segments as follows
- What role does religion play in politics in the US?
- How does the importance of religion in politics relate to Latino immigrants?
- Do Latinos have poor political participation?
- How do religion, Latino immigrants and political participation intertwine in US politics?
2.1 Project outline
There are a series of issues that need to be analyzed critically in order to answer the research question. For example, studies have shown that religion has an important role to play in society. However, there is a …