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Title: Coming out to vote: LGBT mobilization in the two-party system, 1976 - 2016
Authors: Proctor, Andrew Thomas
Advisors: Strolovitch, Dara Z
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Advocacy Organizations
LGBT Politics
Political behavior
Political Parties
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In this dissertation, I provide an account of LGBT political constituency formation in the United States from 1976 to 2016. I do so by developing a theory of what I call “constitutive group mobilization,” which argues that political institutions have a constitutive function that facilitates constituency formation and mobilization. Constitutive group mobilization is a theory about how power dynamics in political institutions shape the ways in which advocacy organizations and political parties represent and mobilize political constituencies. When advocacy organizations mobilize in the party system, they construct group members as part of a broader political constituency, articulating who they are and how they wish to be represented. In response, actors in political parties can affirm or disaffirm the constructions put forth by advocacy organizations. These dynamics constitute political constituencies by bringing individuals to view themselves as members of a larger political constituency, shaping group political behavior. I test my theory by bringing a mixed-method analysis of LGBT politics to the study of advocacy groups and political parties. I examine how interactions between group dynamics and political parties co-constituted a gay and lesbian political constituency over time. I will show how the mobilization of advocacy organizations in the party system intersects with ideological differences between political factions of the LGBT community. On the one hand, advocacy organizations navigated between competing ideological groups, who had different perspectives about how to achieve lesbian and gay rights. On the other hand, advocacy organizations pushed parties to represent their political vision for lesbian and gay rights. Heterosexual party actors, however, occupied entrenched positions of political power in the party system, which allowed them to limit the scope of lesbian and gay representation. I will show how these group-party dynamics co-constituted gay men and lesbians as a “civil rights” political constituency rather than a “queer-liberationist” or “civil libertarian” constituency, as well as how this outcome cannot be explained as simply the reflection of rank-and-file group members’ partisan preferences. I argue instead that this outcome can be explained by constitutive processes that brought lesbians and gay men to view themselves as a civil rights constituency.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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