Are They Political? Examining Asian American College Students’ Civic Engagement

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Abstract

Despite some research to the contrary, many hold the “model minority” stereotype that Asian American youth are civically unengaged. To highlight their diverse experiences, we examined profiles of civic engagement in 3,556 Asian American students from the 2008 University of California Undergraduate Experience Survey. Using 7 indicators of political and community participation, latent class analysis revealed 3 subgroups: Highly Involved (11%), Voting Involved (57%), and Uninvolved (32%). Compared to Chinese Americans, Filipino and East Indian/Pakistani American students were most likely to be Voting Involved. First-generation immigrants were least represented, and students with more educated parents most represented, in the Voting Involved group. Campus experiences including climate of respect, freedom of expression, academic engagement, cultural identity development, and religious participation were uniquely associated with civic engagement typologies. Findings advance research on heterogeneity among Asian American youth and offer implications for colleges and universities that aim to promote civic development among Asian American students.

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