Skip to main content Accessibility help

Americans' Belief in Linked Fate: Does the Measure Capture the Concept?

  • Claudine Gay (a1), Jennifer Hochschild (a1) and Ariel White (a1)


For decades, scholars have attributed Black Americans' unified political and policy views, despite growing internal class and status differences, to a strong perception of linked fate. In recent years, the concept has been measured in other racial and ethnic groups and with regard to gender, but not applied to social statuses such as class or religion. Without broad comparisons across groups and different statuses, however, one cannot determine the appropriate empirical test or most distinctive correlates of this canonical construct. Using a new national survey, we examine Americans' views of linked fate by race or ethnicity, and also by gender, class, or religion. We find expressions of linked fate to be similar across racial or ethnic groups, robust to experimental manipulation, and as strong for class as for racial or ethnic identity. Intra-individual correlations on linked fate items are very high, while a sense of linked fate is rarely associated with political views or political participation. Expressions of linked fate are not always closely related to feelings of closeness to one's group or perceptions of discrimination against that group. We speculate on the broader meaning of responses to this standard item, and conclude that the enormously fruitful theory of racial linked fate is due for further conceptual development and empirical experimentation.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Claudine Gay, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. E-mail:


Hide All
Barreto, Matt, and Bozonelos, Dino. 2009. “Democrat, Republican, or None of the Above? The Role of Religiosity in Muslim American Party Identification.” Politics and Religion 2 (2): 200–29.
Barreto, Matt, Masuoka, Natalie, and Sanchez, Gabriel. 2008. “Religiosity, Discrimination, and Group Identity among Muslim Americans.” Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association.
Berinsky, Adam, Huber, Gregory A., and Lenz, Gabriel S.. 2012. “Evaluating Online Labor Markets for Experimental Research:'s Mechanical Turk.” Political Analysis 20 (3): 351–68.
Block, Ray. 2011. “What About Disillusionment? Exploring the Pathways to Black Nationalism.” Political Behavior 33 (1): 2751.
Bobo, Lawrence, Johnson, James, Oliver, Melvin, Farley, Reynolds, Bluestone, Barry, Browne, Irene, Danziger, Sheldon, Green, Gary, Holzer, Harry, Krysan, Maria, Massagli, Michael, and Charles, Camille Zubrinsky. 2000. Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality, 1992–1994: [Household Survey Data] [Computer File]. 3rd ICPSR Version. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan, Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.
Brown, Robert, and Shaw, Todd. 2002. “Separate Nations: Two Attitudinal Dimensions of Black Nationalism.” Journal of Politics 64 (1): 2244.
Burnside, Randolph, and Rodriguez, Antonio. 2009. “Up Close and Personal: The Effect of Interracial Marriage on Latino Link-Fate.” Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.
Chen, Rou-Lan. 2012. “Beyond National Identity in Taiwan: A Multidimensional and Evolutionary Conceptualization.” Asian Survey 52 (5): 845–71.
Chong, Dennis, and Kim, Dukhong. 2006. “The Experiences and Effects of Economic Status among Racial and Ethnic Minorities.” American Political Science Review 100 (3): 335–51.
Chong, Dennis, and Rogers, Reuel. 2004. “Reviving Group Consciousness.” In The Politics of Democratic Inclusion, eds. Wolbrecht, Christina and Hero, Rodney. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 4574.
Davis, Darren, and Brown, Ronald. 2002. “The Antipathy of Black Nationalism: Behavioral and Attitudinal Implications of an African American Ideology.” American Journal of Political Science 46 (2): 239–52.
Davis, Jessica, and Gandy, Oscar Jr. 1999. “Racial Identity and Media Orientation: Exploring the Nature of Constraint.” Journal of Black Studies 29 (3): 367–97.
Dawson, Michael. 1994. Behind the Mule: Race and Class in African-American Politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Dawson, Michael. 2001. Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Dovi, Suzanne. 2002. “Preferable Descriptive Representatives: Will Just Any Woman, Black, or Latino Do?American Political Science Review 96 (4): 729–43.
Forman, James Jr. 2011. “The Black Poor, Black Elites, and America's Prisons.” Cardozo Law Review 32 (3): 791806.
Gandy, Oscar. 2001. “Racial Identity, Media Use, and the Social Construction of Risk among African Americans.” Journal of Black Studies 31 (5): 600–18.
Gay, Claudine. 2004. “Putting Race in Context: Identifying the Environmental Determinants of Black Racial Attitudes.” American Political Science Review 98 (4): 547–62.
Gay, Claudine, and Tate, Katherine. 1998. “Doubly Bound: The Impact of Gender and Race on the Politics of Black Women.” Political Psychology 19 (1): 169–84.
Hajnal, Zoltan. 2007. “Black Class Exceptionalism: Insights from Direct Democracy on the Race Versus Class Debate.” Public Opinion Quarterly 71 (4): 560–87.
Harris, Fredrick, and Langer, Gary. 2008. Survey on Race, Politics, and Society. New York: Center on African-American Politics and Society, Columbia University, and The ABC Polling Unit.
Harris-Lacewell, Melissa, and Junn, Jane. 2007. “Old Friends and New Alliances: How the 2004 Illinois Senate Race Complicates the Study of Race and Religion.” Journal of Black Studies 38 (1): 3050.
Haynes, Chris, and Skulley, Carrie (n.d. [c. 2012]). Linked Fate and the Inter-Ethnic Differences among Asian Americans. Riverside, CA: University of California, Riverside: Department of Political Science.
Herring, Mary, Jankowski, Thomas, and Brown, Ronald. 1999. “Pro-Black Doesn't Mean Anti-White: The Structure of African-American Group Identity.” Journal of Politics 61 (2): 363–86.
Hochschild, Jennifer, and Weaver, Vesla. 2007. “The Skin Color Paradox and the American Racial Order.” Social Forces 86 (2): 643–70.
Hoston, William. 2009. “Black Solidarity and Racial Context: An Exploration of the Role of Black Solidarity in U.S. Cities.” Journal of Black Studies 39 (5): 719–31.
Howell, Susan, and Perry, Huey. 2004. “Black Mayors/White Mayors: Explaining Their Approval.” Public Opinion Quarterly 68 (1): 3256.
Howell, Susan, Perry, Huey, and Vile, Matthew. 2004. “Black Cities/White Cities: Evaluating the Police.” Political Behavior 26 (1): 4568.
Huff, Connor, and Tingley, Dustin. 2015. “‘Who Are These People?’: Evaluating the Demographic Characteristics and Political Preferences of MTurk Survey Respondents.” Research and Politics, July-September (1): 112.
Hutchings, Vincent, Wong, Cara, Brown, Ronald, Jackson, James, and Faison, Nakesha. 2005. The National Ethnic Politics Study (NEPS): Ethnic Pluralism & Politics in the 21st Century. Miami Beach, FL: American Association of Public Opinion Research, May 12.
Junn, Jane, and Masuoka, Natalie. 2008. “Asian American Identity: Shared Racial Status and Political Context.” Perspectives on Politics 6 (4): 729–40.
Kim, Claire, and Lee, Taeku. 2001. “Interracial Politics: Asian Americans and Other Communities of Color.” PS: Political Science and Politics 34 (3): 631–37.
Krysan, Maria, and Farley, Reynolds. 2002. “The Residential Preferences of Blacks: Do They Explain Persistent Segregation?Social Forces 80 (3): 937–80.
Lau, Richard, and Redlawsk, David. 2001. “Advantages and Disadvantages of Cognitive Heuristics in Political Decision Making.” American Journal of Political Science 45 (4): 951–71.
Lien, Pei-te, Conway, M. Margaret, and Wong, Janelle. 2004. The Politics of Asian Americans: Diversity and Community. New York: Routledge.
Manzano, Sylvia, and Sanchez, Gabriel. 2010. “Take One for the Team? The Limits of Shared Ethnicity and Candidate Preferences.” Political Research Quarterly 63 (3): 568–80.
Masuoka, Natalie. 2006. “Together They Become One: Examining the Predictors of Panethnic Group Consciousness among Asian Americans and Latinos.” Social Science Quarterly 87 (Supplement): 9931011.
McClain, Paula, Carter, Niambi, Soto, Victoria DeFrancesco, Lyle, Monique, Grynaviski, Jeffrey, Nunnally, Shayla, Scotto, Thomas, Kendrick, J. Alan, Lackey, Gerald, and Cotton, Kendra Davenport 2006. “Racial Distancing in a Southern City: Latino Immigrants’ Views of Black Americans.” Journal of Politics 68 (3): 571–84.
McClain, Paula, Carew, Jessica Johnson, Walton, Eugene Jr., and Watts, Candis. 2009. “Group Membership, Group Identity, and Group Consciousness: Measures of Racial Identity in American Politics?” Annual Review of Political Science 12: 471–85.
McClain, Paula, and Stewart, Joseph Jr. 2013. Can We All Get Along? Racial and Ethnic Minorities in American Politics. 6th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
McConnaughy, Corrine, White, Ismail, Leal, David, and Casellas, Jason. 2010. “A Latino on the Ballot: Explaining Coethnic Voting among Latinos and the Response of White Americans.” Journal of Politics 72 (4): 1199–211.
Meares, Tracey. 1998. “Social Organization and Drug Law Enforcement.” American Criminal Law Review 35: 191226.
Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. 2007. Racial Attitudes in America.
Pew Research Center, and National Public Radio. 2009. Social Trends: Racial Attitudes in America Survey. Washington, DC.
Philpot, Tasha, Shaw, Daron, and McGowen, Ernest. 2009. “Winning the Race: Black Voter Turnout in the 2008 Presidential Election.” Public Opinion Quarterly 73 (5): 9951022.
Popkin, Samuel. 1993. “Information Shortcuts and the Reasoning Voter.” In Information, Participation, and Choice, ed. Grofman, Bernard. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1735.
Price, Melanye. 2009. Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion. New York: NYU Press.
Reese, Laura, and Brown, Ronald. 1995. “The Effects of Religious Messages on Racial Identity and System Blame among African Americans.” Journal of Politics 57 (1): 2443.
Sanchez, Gabriel. 2006. “The Role of Group Consciousness in Political Participation among Latinos in the United States.” American Politics Research 34 (4): 427–50.
Sanchez, Gabriel, and Masuoka, Natalie. 2010. “Brown-Utility Heuristic? The Presence and Contributing Factors of Latino Linked Fate.” Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences 32 (4): 519–31.
Sawyer, Mark, Peña, Yesilernis, and Sidanius, Jim. 2004. “Cuban Exceptionalism: Group-Based Hierarchy and the Dynamics of Patriotism in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.” Du Bois Review 1 (1): 93113.
Schildkraut, Deborah. 2013a. “Unpacking Attitudes About Descriptive Representation.” Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association.
Schildkraut, Deborah. 2013b. “Which Birds of a Feather Flock Together? Assessing Attitudes About Descriptive Representation among Latinos and Asian Americans.” American Politics Research 41 (4): 699729.
Segura, Gary. 2012. “Latino Public Opinion & Realigning the American Electorate.” Daedalus 141 (4): 98113.
Shelby, Tommie. 2005. We Who Are Dark: The Philosophical Foundations of Black Solidarity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Simien, Evelyn. 2005. “Race, Gender, and Linked Fate.” Journal of Black Studies 35 (5): 529–50.
Skerry, Peter. 1997. “The Strange Politics of Affirmative Action.” Wilson Quarterly (Winter): 3946.
Tate, Katherine. 1993. From Protest to Politics: The New Black Voters in American Elections. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Tate, Katherine. 2003. “Black Opinion on the Legitimacy of Racial Redistricting and Minority-Majority Districts.” American Political Science Review 97 (1): 4556.
Valdez, Zulema. 2011. “Political Participation among Latinos in the United States: The Effect of Group Identity and Consciousness.” Social Science Quarterly 92 (2): 466–82.
Watts, Candis. 2009. “Expanding Contours of Black Politics?: Understanding Linked-Fate among Afro-Caribbeans.” Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.
White, Ismail. 2007. “When Race Matters and When It Doesn't: Racial Group Differences in Response to Racial Cues.” American Political Science Review 101 (2): 339–54.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Gay supplementary material
Online Appendix

 PDF (298 KB)
298 KB

Americans' Belief in Linked Fate: Does the Measure Capture the Concept?

  • Claudine Gay (a1), Jennifer Hochschild (a1) and Ariel White (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.