When Ethnic Identity and Patriotism Collide

Join IPL for an upcoming faculty seminar exploring shifting attitudes toward diversity and national cohesion.                                                              


When politicians and media outlets speak about issues of immigration and ethnic identity, American Latinos listen—and sometimes that rhetoric leads them to become more ethnocentric and less patriotic, according to new scholarship. Efrén Pérez will walk us through his research and invite discussion at the next session of the Faculty Seminar Series at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), co-hosted by IPL.

The Talk:
Preserving national unity in light of ethnic diversity—e pluribus unum—is a challenge in immigrant-receiving countries. Efrén Pérez will present on two studies, claiming that elite rhetoric about the proper balance between ethnic and national identity motivates individual reactions to this ideal.

The first study centers on U.S. Latino adults and shows that rhetoric posing Latino and American identity as incompatible prompts them to voice weaker patriotism, fainter support for a common English language, and stronger pro-Latino preferences, with ethnic identity mediating each effect.

The second study examines Latino and White reactions to elite rhetoric about ethnic and national identity, without targeting Latinos. Pérez finds that rhetoric posing ethnic and national identity as compatible also leads Latinos to express less patriotism, dimmer support for a common language, and stronger co-ethnic preferences, with ethnic identity mediating each effect. In sharp contrast, however, the same rhetoric motivates Whites to insist on e pluribus unum based on their American identity.

The Speaker:

Efrén Pérez is associate professor of political science and sociology (by courtesy) at Vanderbilt University. He is also co-director of its Research on Individuals, Politics, & Society (RIPS) experimental lab. Pérez draws on psychological insights to better understand the political attitudes and behaviors of racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

Substantively, he conducts research on implicit political cognition, group identity, and language and survey response. Methodologically, he designs and runs lab and survey experiments in inter-group settings.

Pérez’s research has been published by the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, Political Analysis, Political Behavior, and Political Psychology. His book Unspoken Politics: Implicit Attitudes and Political Thinking (Cambridge University Press) is the winner of the 2017 Best Book Award from the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

Wednesday, October 11

12 pm – 1:30 pm

Stanford University, Margaret Jacks Hall

Terrace Room (4th Floor)

This event is free and open to all Stanford faculty, graduate students, and CCSRE affiliates. Register here.