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Task Force on Racial and Class Inequalities in the Americas

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The main goal of the task force, under the leadership of APSA President Rodney Hero, was to investigate the relationship between race and class in producing material, political, and social inequalities in the nations of the Americas. The task force also examined how the political systems in these countries work to foment and/or ameliorate inequalities that track with ethnic and racial identities and socioeconomic status.

The work of the task force unfolded in a period in which political science has begun to pay greater attention to the causes and consequences of various forms of inequality. To some extent, political science has lagged behind cognate fields of history, economics, and sociology in terms of scholarly attentiveness to inequality. The recent literature on inequality in political science, however, has focused almost exclusively on rising income inequality and how it affects political representation. The long-standing gaps in the life chances of whites and communities of color in the nations of the Americas have been largely unexplored. At the same time, in Latin America, which had long denied the existence of a relationship between race and ethnicity and class disparities, there has been an explosion in data-gathering on race and ethnicity and in particular on the relationship between race and inequality. 

The task force members have explicitly sought to grapple with both the problem of rising socioeconomic inequality and the multifaceted racial gaps that exist throughout the Americas. Moreover, they examined the ways in which race and class inequalities are epiphenomena of politics. Thus, their work was organized around several core concepts and theoretical insights that animate research programs in political science—e.g., the role of institutions, the mobilizing power of group memberships, party politics, and social movements. They find that ethnoracial minorities, even in countries in which they represent a large percentage of the population and participate actively in elections, are hampered in translating their demographic potential and civic participation into meaningful socioeconomic gains by their low socioeconomic status and the incentives of the party system.

Executive Summary

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Task Force Chapters

The complete task force is available above. For ease of access, each individual chapter is included separately below.

The Double Bind: The Politics of Racial and Class Inequalities in the Americas 
Juliet Hooker, University of Texas, Austin
Alvin B. Tillery, Jr., Northwestern University

Foreword
Rodney Hero, University of California, Berkeley

1 The Mexican Color Hierarchy: How Race and Skin Tone Still Define Life Chances 200 Years after Independence
Guillermo Trejo, University of Notre Dame
Melina Altamirano, Duke University

2 Black Blues: The Persistence of Racialized Economic Inequality in Black Communities
Michael C. Dawson, University of Chicago
Megan Ming Francis, University of Washington

3 Asians in the Americas
Jane Junn, University of Southern California
Taeku Lee, University of California, Berkeley

4 Emergence of an Organized Politics of Race in Latin America
Mala Htun, University of New Mexico

5 New Data, New Knowledge, New Politics: Race, Color, and Class Inequality in Latin America
Mara Loveman, University of California, Berkeley

6 Beyond Race or Class: Entangled Inequalities in Latin America
Tianna S. Paschel, University of California, Berkeley

7 Learning from Ferguson: Welfare, Criminal Justice, and the Political Science of Race and Class
Joe Soss, University of Minnesota
Vesla Weaver, Yale University

8 The Puzzling Persistence of Racial Inequality in Canada
Keith Banting, Queen’s University
Debra Thompson, Northwestern University

9 Inequality in Black and White: Public Opinion and Inequality in the United States
Vincent Hutchings, University of Michigan

10 Experiencing Inequality but Not Seeing Class: An Examination of Latino Political Attitudes 
Michael Jones-Correa, University of Pennsylvania
Sophia Jordán Wallace, University of Washington  

11 Race and Class Inequality in Local Politics
Zoltan L. Hajnal, University of California, San Diego
Jessica L. Trounstine, University of California, Merced

12 Indigenous Voters and the Rise of the Left in Latin America
Raúl Madrid, University of Texas at Austin

Members of the Task Force

Rodney E. Hero, University of California, Berkeley, 2015 APSA President
Juliet Hooker, University of Texas, Austin 
Alvin B. Tillery, Jr., Northwestern University

Melina Altamirano, Duke University
Keith Banting, Queen’s University
Michael C. Dawson, University of Chicago
Megan Ming Francis, University of Washington
Paul Frymer, Princeton University
Zoltan L. Hajnal, University of California, San Diego
Mala Htun, University of New Mexico
Vincent Hutchings, University of Michigan
Michael Jones-Correa, University of Pennsylvania
Jane Junn, University of Southern California
Taeku Lee, University of California, Berkeley
Mara Loveman, University of California, Berkeley
Raúl Madrid, University of Texas at Austin
Tianna S. Paschel, University of California, Berkeley
Paul Pierson, University of California, Berkeley 
Joe Soss, University of Minnesota
Debra Thompson, Northwestern University
Guillermo Trejo, University of Notre Dame
Jessica L. Trounstine, University of California, Merced
Sophia Jordán Wallace, University of Washington 
Dorian Warren, Roosevelt Institute 
Vesla Weaver, Yale University

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