Democracy and Elections seminar: Do You See What I See?: Ethnic Diversity, Pseudoenvironments, and Social Capital
|Starts:||15:30 23 May 2016|
|Ends:||17:00 23 May 2016|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
|Speaker:||Prof Cara Wong|
Professor Cara Wong, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
How does place affect politics? Using maps drawn by respondents of their local communities as an individual-level measure of racial content, we side-step the modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP) and uncertain geographic context problem (UGCoP) and describe the relationships between social capital and the racial composition of a context defined as personally relevant and salient. By asking respondents to describe these hand-drawn communities, we also test one of the mechanisms assumed by past research — whether perceptions matter — while also avoiding questions of selection. Given two individuals who live in local contexts with virtually identical diversity, we show that the one who thinks she lives with more minorities tends, on average, also to see lower social capital among her neighbors. This finding separates the effect of objective social context from that of mental maps, revealing that context influences political judgments via perceptions. We also discover great heterogeneity of perceptions among people living in virtually the same areas. Misperceptions of diversity, along with objective context, produce lower social capital (and further down the causal chain, perhaps lower support for public goods). The fact that neighbors do not see the same social reality suggests that public policies aiming to ameliorate intergroup conflict can focus on perceptual change in addition to urban planning.
Cara is a Visiting Hallsworth Professor collaborating with the British Election Study on the BES mapping project.
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