Title page for ETD etd-05202011-162625


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Nguyen, Nhung Kim
URN etd-05202011-162625
Title Asians in the American Mind: How Americans View Asian Americans Politically
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Political Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Garand, James C. Committee Chair
Bratton, Kathleen Committee Member
Clark, William A. Committee Member
Kenny, Christopher B. Committee Member
Miller, Andrea Dean's Representative
Keywords
  • Asian Americans
  • racial attitudes
  • political perceptions
Date of Defense 2011-05-17
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This study explores how the general American public thinks about Asian Americans, who are a multiethnic, immigrant-dominated, fast-growing, and understudied group. Understanding Americans’ views toward Asians is important in light of the changing face of the American electorate, whose recent additions comprise largely of immigrants from Asia and Latin America, and the likelihood that Americans’ beliefs or thoughts about race and ethnicity will be altered beyond the black-white divide in U.S. politics. As an attempt to gain such understanding, the purpose of this study is to provide a systematic study of Americans’ attitudes toward Asians in terms of positive/negative evaluations that they have of Asians (i.e., affect-based perceptions) and their perceptions of factual attributes of Asians, such as perseverance and intelligence (i.e., cognition-based perceptions).

Americans’ perceptions of Asian Americans are examined using a conceptual framework based on theories and measures that have been discussed in past studies of intergroup relations largely directed at the relationship between white and black Americans, including the personal contact, context, self-interest, and symbolic politics theoretical perspectives. The major findings of the effects of these key explanatory factors on Americans’ affect- and cognition-based perceptions of Asians indicate some mixed and conflicting results. The findings confirm some aspects of the personal contact, self-interest, and symbolic politics hypotheses, but not the context hypothesis.

The major findings of this study have provided some important insights into Americans’ views of Asians, suggesting that a better or fuller understanding of contemporary racial attitudes in U.S. politics requires focusing on all groups salient to politics, including Asian Americans.

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