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Contested Transformation
Race, Gender, and Political Leadership in 21st Century America


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  • Date Published: February 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521196437

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About the Authors
  • Contested Transformation constitutes the first comprehensive study of racial and ethnic minorities holding elective office in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Building on data from the Gender and Multicultural Leadership (GMCL) National Database and Survey, it provides a baseline portrait of Black, Latino, Asian American, and American Indian elected officials - the women and men holding public office at national, state, and local levels of government. Analysis reveals commonalities and differences across race and gender groups on their backgrounds, paths to public office, leadership roles, and policy positions. Challenging mainstream political science theories in their applicability to elected officials of color, the book offers new understandings of the experiences of those holding public office today. Gains in political leadership and influence by people of color are transforming the American political landscape, but they have occurred within a contested political context, one where struggles for racial and gender equality continue.

    • Provides detailed findings on the backgrounds and political trajectories of elected officials of color by race and gender giving academics access to new information needed for their research
    • The book's compelling narrative of contested transformation makes it accessible to a wide audience, from students to political activists to media commentators
    • Explores topics currently under debate such as immigration policy, voting rights, and the death penalty, being relevant for the 2016 US Presidential election and beyond
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    • Winner, 2017 Distinguished Career Book Award, Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Contested Transformation provides a treasure trove of valuable information about men and women of color in public office not found anywhere else. It really is the first of its kind. It no doubt will serve as the baseline reference for many other scholars.' Beth Reingold, Emory University, Atlanta

    'With its focus on documenting the increases in women and men of color serving in elective office, this book is a significant contribution to understanding the implications of this trend, particularly observable at the subnational level of American politics. This stellar team of scholars presents an exceptional example of intersectional analyses that is critically comparative across and within groups. Indeed it is required reading for scholars interested in engaging the twenty-first-century realities of increased diversity in governing institutions.' Wendy G. Smooth, Ohio State University

    'An indispensable resource and an instant classic, Contested Transformation opens a new window on studies of representation in the United States. Hardy-Fanta, Lien, Pinderhughes, and Sierra provide invaluable guidance for analyzing how elected officials of color of all genders are transforming American politics.' Jane Yunhee Junn, University of Southern California

    'Contested Transformation demonstrates that much of the conventional wisdom about candidates and officeholders gets turned on its head when racial and ethnic minorities are centered in the analysis. The authors' comprehensive data on minority elected officials at state and local levels, their comparative analysis across racial and ethnic minority groups, their focus on women of color, and their application of an intersectional lens make this book a unique and indispensable resource.' Susan J. Carroll, Rutgers University, New Jersey

    'As political contestation around hierarchy and inclusion - whether of race, gender, ethnicity, class, religion, or something else - heats up in the United States and elsewhere, citizens and scholars urgently need reliable information. They especially need information that is embedded in a strong, clear, empirically-grounded analysis. Along comes Contested Transformation, just in time. The study of minority groups' constricted yet expanding political leadership would be valuable at any time, but at present it commands our attention as few other topics can do.' Jennifer L. Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government, Harvard University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2017
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521196437
    • length: 512 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.96kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus. 1 colour illus. 3 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Transforming the American Political Landscape:
    1. Dual narratives
    dramatic growth and continuing underrepresentation
    2. Who governs at the local level?
    3. Portrait of elected officials of color
    Part II. Paths to Political Office:
    4. The decision to run and patterns of office holding
    5. The election contest: navigating the campaign trail
    Part III. Leadership, Governance, and Representation:
    6. Leadership and governance
    7. Perspectives on representation
    Part IV. Advancing Democracy in the United States:
    8. Prospects for building coalitions across race and gender.

  • Authors

    Carol Hardy-Fanta, University of Massachusetts, Boston
    Carol Hardy-Fanta is Senior Fellow at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. From 2001 to 2012 she served as director of the McCormack School's Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and its graduate program. She has published widely in the fields of race, gender, and politics.

    Pei-te Lien, University of California, Santa Barbara
    Pei-te Lien is a professor of Political Science and holds an affiliated professorship with the Department of Asian American Studies and that of Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her primary research interest is the political participation and representation of Asian and other non-white Americans, her recent work examines the intersection of race, ethnicity, gender, and nativity in political behavior.

    Dianne Pinderhughes, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
    Dianne Pinderhughes is University of Notre Dame Presidential Faculty Fellow as well as Professor in the Departments of Political Science and Africana Studies, and chair of the department of Africana Studies. Her research addresses inequality with a focus on racial, ethnic and gender politics and public policy in the Americas, explores the creation of American civil society institutions in the twentieth century, and analyzes their influence on the formation of voting rights policy.

    Christine Marie Sierra, University of New Mexico
    Christine Marie Sierra is Professor Emerita of Political Science at the University of New Mexico. From 2011 to 2014 she served as Director of the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute at the university. Her expertise is in American politics with a focus on race, ethnicity, and gender. Her publications include work on Mexican-American activism on immigration policy, Hispanic politics in New Mexico, and the politics of Latina women in the United States.


    • Winner, 2017 Distinguished Career Book Award, Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Section American Political Science Association

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