Rewiring Linked Fate: Bringing Back History, Agency, and Power
Linked fate, the concept introduced by Dawson almost three decades ago, reoriented the study of racism and political behavior in the United States. The scholarship traditionally had focused on the racial psychology of whites and how racism seeps into their political views and actions. Dawson proposed the Black utility heuristic theory and linked fate, its associated measure, to investigate the political behavior of Blacks, the minority group most harmed by racism. Since then, linked fate has become a ubiquitous variable of interest in research on minority group politics. Yet the research program around linked fate is due for some extension. Most studies gloss over the fact that the Black utility heuristic theory is historically and socially conditional. We call for bringing elite-level agency and group-level social practices back into the literature to clarify the macro- and meso-level conditions under which a group’s racial status translates into linked fate at the individual level. Greater inquiry into these dynamics is not only warranted but also has broad implications for the research on racial and ethnic politics.
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