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Political Science

Lucila Figueroa

Norms, Latinos, and Political Attitudes in the United States
2014–15 Survey Lab Project

My research investigates the factors behind support for or opposition to immigration in the United States. I analyze the impact of norms—standards of conduct dictated by a person’s identity—on political attitudes. In my dissertation, I use survey experiments to capture the negative effect of norm violations on attitudes toward Latinos and immigrants. This project builds on my dissertation by focusing on the pre-existing assumptions respondents make about Latinos’ and immigrants’ propensities to violate norms. I seek to understand whether White respondents believe Latino immigrants violate norms more than do South and East Asian immigrants, European immigrants, and immigrants from the Middle East. Additionally, I seek to show that a negative reaction to norm violations does actually stem from the feeling that the collective cultural American identity is threatened, not from sociotropic financial concerns. Finally, I hope to analyze the reactions of groups beyond White Americans, such as African Americans, to norm violations by Latinos in the U.S.

American Norms and Political Public Opinion
2012–13 Survey Lab Project

To what extent do norms structure public opinion toward Latinos in the United States? To what extent do norms structure political public opinion?  To answer these questoins, I focus on two types of norms, norms of propriety (p-norms) and cultural norms (c-norms).  P-norms are aspects that the American public, ideally, would like all citizens to encompass.  For example, we desire a population that is employed, educated, and law-abiding.  These norms are not tied to race or ethnicity; whites are expected to follow p-norms, just as are minorities.  Conversely, c-norms are tied to race, ethnicity, and/or nationality.  Within a society, it is the dominant group that sets the normative behaviors.  In the U.S., this group is non-Hispanic whites.  White Americans, then, tend to expect Latinos living in the U.S. to “fit in.”  In other words, to follow salient, American c-norms.  My research question may be rephrased as, if a Latino in the U.S. follows p-norms, will he or she find acceptance by non-Hispanic white Americans?  Or, must a Latino lose Hispanic cultural identity (follow c-norms) in order to gain full acceptance?  I conducted a variety of survey experiments that vary whether p- and c-norms are followed or violated to understand if the treatments affected public opinion toward Latinos and on a wide variety of policies.


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