Asian-American Political Participation: The Consequences of Social Invisibility



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Asian-Americans/ Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are one of the highest educated and income-earning ethnic groups in the United States. These characteristics typically indicates high political activity, but AAPIs are the least politically active ethnic group in the United States. While past scholars have studied this phenomenon to an extent, political scientists note the deficiency of literature on this topic. In my thesis, I expand on the theories of past scholars and argue that social invisibility is a significant contributor to low political participation among Asian-Americans. Underrepresentation and misrepresentation of AAPIs negatively impact both the ability and willingness of Asians to participate in American politics. I study the effects of social invisibility by surveying a sample of the student population at the University of Houston, the second most diverse university in the country. By comparing AAPI and Caucasian responses, I provide strong support for a negative relationship between social invisibility and political participation. As the AAPI population in the U.S. continues to grow, so will the importance of understanding this group. My research will help future scholars and political campaigns understand the internal and external barriers AAPI face when engaging in American politics. This project was completed with contributions from Justin Kirkland from the Department of Political Science, University of Houston.