Little controversy remains about how the United States has changed demographically since the mid-1960s. Far more controversial is whether this change is bringing about a new politics of race. This article argues that a key to settling this debate is a clearer specification of the identity-to-politics link—the nexus from a population defined by shared racial and ethnic labels to a collective group politics based on those definitions. The article articulates some potential pitfalls in how this nexus is commonly specified in empirical research. It then proposes that researchers should be mindful of five processes that are typically lumped together in linking shared demographic categories to common political destinies: definition, identification, consciousness, venue selection, and choice. The article concludes with a discussion of the potential utility and limitations of unpacking these five processes in our analysis of the identity-to-politics link.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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