REPRESENTING BLACK INTERESTS AND PROMOTING BLACK CULTURE: The Importance of African American Descriptive Representation in the U.S. House Journal Article uri icon



  • Despite considerable examination, scholars have yet to definitively establish the relationship between a legislator's racial background and his or her legislative activities. We assess the relationship between descriptive and substantive representation by discerning whether Black members of the U.S. House are more likely to promote group interests in their varied capacities as elected officials than are similarly positioned non-Black legislators. Our empirical tests utilize the most appropriate econometric models and techniques to analyze data from four Congresses spanning two distinctive districting regimes and incorporating several elements of representational behaviors. The findings are clear: Black members represent group interests more vociferously than non-Black members, including liberal non-Black Democrats from similar districts. Moreover, because Black members do not receive electoral benefits for engaging in such behavior, these legislators have policy-based motivation for representing Black interests. These results have profound practical implications for minority political representation and the future of identity politics.

publication date

  • September 1, 2005

Date in CU Experts

  • November 1, 2013 10:25 AM

Full Author List

  • Baker A; Cook C

author count

  • 2

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1742-058X

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1742-0598

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 227

end page

  • 246


  • 2


  • 2