Understanding Latinx Civic Engagement in a New Immigrant Gateway

Authors: Johanna Schuch*, University of North Carolina - Charlotte
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Ethnic Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Latino/Hispanic, political engagement, civic behaviors, immigrants, U.S. South, ethnic geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Directors Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The U.S. South has experienced rapid Latinx growth, yet little is known about how Latinx residents are civically integrating into new communities. This article explores if, where and why Latinx in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, are civically engaged. Participants in a Latinx Civic Engagement Project conducted 382 surveys with fellow Latinx residents in a county with Latinx growth rates over 1,800% from 1990 to 2014. The survey asked about demographics and 14 civic engagement behaviors. Among respondents, 58.5% had volunteered in the past year and 47.0% were member of a faith-based or charitable organization. Household income, educational attainment and English proficiency were most strongly correlated with civic engagement (r=0.456, r=0.453 and r=0.464 respectively). The main motivations for engagement were the betterment of the Latinx community (26.9%), social justice and representation (16.1%) and family (7.9%). Main barriers were lack of information (37.1%), limited time (17.2%), disinterest (7.8%) and documentation status (4.3%). Findings can shape conversations about Latinx engagement in ways that include, but go beyond, voting and political representation. We must also consider the outcomes of this engagement and that Latinx civic and political participation may not necessarily lead to Latinx representation.

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