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Bonding Social Capital: Ideological Similarity and Political Participation

Sat, September 1, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Hynes, 111


A plethora of previous research has shown the importance of religious institutions, such as the church, in mobilizing political participation. This is particularly true among Asian Americans who use these organizations as sites of political socialization (Lien et al. 2004 and Wong et al. 2011). The social capital literature provides two theoretical explanations for why voluntary organizations increase political participation: bridging capital between different groups (Gutmann 1998 and Putnam 2000) and bonding capital among similar groups (Lui 2011). The latter argues that individuals who attend racially homogenous churches are associated with higher rates of participation. This current paper builds off of, and contributes to, the existing literature by looking at another aspect of homogeneity and potential bonding. How does similarity in political ideology among church members affect political participation for Asian Americans? Are members of politically homogenous churches more likely to take on political activities compared to those that attend politically heterogenous churches? Contrary to bridging social capital theory, results from the Collaborative Multi-Racial Post-Election Survey (2016) show that Asian Americans who attend churches among members who have similar political views are significantly more likely to vote in national elections and take on conventional modes of political action. These findings provide evidence that it is the ideological homogeneity in religious organizations that allow for the bonding of social capital between racial/ethnic minority groups and is indeed salient to democratic participation.