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Historic FirstsHow Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. Politics$
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Evelyn M. Simien

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199314171

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199314171.001.0001

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Symbolic Empowerment

Symbolic Empowerment

Trailblazers and Torchbearers

(p.1) Chapter 1 Symbolic Empowerment
Historic Firsts

Evelyn M. Simien

Oxford University Press

By introducing the concept of symbolic empowerment, the chapter bridges the scholarly literature on descriptive and symbolic representation. In it, the chapter argues that historic candidacies change the nature of political representation when a strong psychological attachment or affective intragroup emotion like pride heightens the value of intrinsic rewards associated with voting and participating in other ways, from proselytizing and attending a campaign rally or political meeting to donating money and wearing a campaign button. The aim of such “feel-good” candidates like Chisholm and Jackson, who elicited a positive intragroup emotion like pride, was to win the affection of voters and to stoke the desire to get involved in the electoral process. On the other hand, the aim of Clinton and Obama, for whom Chisholm and Jackson paved the way, was to secure the Democratic nomination.

Keywords:   empowerment, descriptive representation, symbolic representation, intersectionality, pride, intragroup emotion

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