Deborah Schildkraut, Ph.D.

Tufts University

Address: Tufts University, Packard Hall

City: Medford, Massachusetts - 02155

Country: United States

About Me:

I received my Ph.D. from Princeton University and my B.A. from Tufts University. My courses include the Politics of Ethnicity and American Identity, Political Psychology, Political Science Research Methods, Introduction to American Politics, Public Opinion, and Political Representation in the United States. My research examines the implications of the changing ethnic composition of the United States on public opinion in a variety of domains.

Research Interests

Immigration & Citizenship

Political Psychology

Public Opinion

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Countries of Interest

United States


Journal Articles:

(2018) Not Just a National Issue: Effect of State‐Level Reception of Immigrants and Population Changes on Intergroup Attitudes of Whites, Latinos, and Asians in the United States, Journal of Social Issues

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Political Psychology, State and Local Politics

National discourse about immigration in the United States has become increasingly unwelcoming. In two studies, we examine whether regional‐level (state) information about welcoming (vs. unwelcoming) immigrant policies in the context of either stable or increasing rate of immigration can influence intergroup relations in receiving communities. Among Whites (Study 1), welcoming policy proposals elicited more positive attitudes toward immigrants generally and toward Latinos, the ethnic group most closely associated with immigration in the United States, but only when rate of immigration is constant. In contrast, among Latinos (Study 2), an unwelcoming reception led to more positive attitudes toward immigrants (legal and undocumented) but again only when rate of immigration is constant. Asians’ attitudes (Study 2) toward immigrants were not affected by contextual information about immigration. Together, these findings suggest that local conditions can affect community members’ attitudes toward immigrants and toward specific ethnic groups associated with immigration.

(2018) Local policy proposals can bridge Latino and (most) white Americans’ response to immigration, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Public Opinion, Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Subnational immigrant policies (i.e., those instituted at the state level in the United States) are not only key to successful integration, they send a message about who belongs. Our evidence suggests that welcoming state-level immigrant policies lead to greater belonging among foreign-born Latinos, US-born Latinos, and even US-born whites. Only self-identified politically conservative whites showed depressed feelings of belonging when state policies support immigrants. Patterns remained constant across states that vary in their historic reception of immigrants (Arizona and New Mexico). These findings suggest that debates about the polarizing effects of immigration policies by racial group are misplaced. With a majority of whites nationally identifying as either liberal or moderate, welcoming immigration policies have direct and spillover effects that can further national unity..

(2018) Young People in the American Electorate, Journal of Race Ethnicity and Politics

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Public Opinion

When assessing the attitudes and behaviors of young people, disaggregating by race is essential.

(2017) White attitudes about descriptive representation in the US: The roles of identity, discrimination, and linked fate, Politics, Groups, and Identities

Tags: Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Public Opinion, Political Psychology

Many white Americans feel that whites are discriminated against, identify as white, and feel a sense of linked fate with whites. Scholars have studied these psychological connections to one's racial group among nonwhites, but little attention in political science has been given to how they operate among whites. However, changing social, demographic, and electoral patterns point to inevitable challenges to their traditional status and power. This study examines the extent to which these psychological connections to whites as a group exist and shape how whites feel about descriptive representation. Using a nationally representative survey, it finds that identifying as white, thinking whites are discriminated against, and seeing one's fate as tied to the fate of whites overall are common and make it more likely that whites will say it is important to have a political candidate who is white. These findings reveal a striking similarity in how whites and nonwhites form attitudes about descriptive representation. The implications of these findings given ongoing social and political trends are discussed.

(2014) Boundaries of American identity: evolving understandings of “Us”, Annual Review of Political Science

Tags: Public Opinion, Race, Ethnicity and Politics, Immigration & Citizenship

This review examines empirical research about American national identity. It focuses on the social and political causes and consequences of (a) how people define what being American means and (b) their degree of attachment to being American. It explains why scholars increasingly view American identity as a social identity and reviews arguments for why political scientists should investigate American identity as both an independent and a dependent variable. Existing research documents a high degree of consensus across demographic groups regarding how American identity is defined. It also reveals both beneficial and harmful consequences of people strongly identifying as American. Empirical inquiries of American identity are motivated by demographic trends, especially the rise in immigration-driven diversity, but they are also deeply grounded in historical and philosophical assessments of the nature of American identity, and such scholarship is also discussed throughout the review.

Books Written:

(2018) The Challenge of Democracy: American Government in Global Politics, Cengage Learning

Tags: Elections, Election Administration, and Voting Behavior, Political Participation, Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Textbook on American government and politics

(2011) Americanism in the twenty-first century: Public opinion in the age of immigration, Cambridge University Press

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Public Opinion, Political Psychology

This book explores public opinion about being and becoming American, and its implications for contemporary immigration debates. It focuses on the causes and consequences of two aspects of American identity: how people define being American and whether people think of themselves primarily as American rather than as members of a panethnic or national origin group. Importantly, the book evaluates the claim-made by scholars and pundits alike-that all Americans should prioritize their American identity instead of an ethnic or national origin identity. It finds that national identity within American democracy can be a blessing or a curse. It can enhance participation, trust, and obligation. But it can be a curse when perceptions of deviation lead to threat and resentment. It can also be a curse for minorities who are attached to their American identity but also perceive discrimination.

(2005) Press one for English: Language policy, public opinion, and American identity, Princeton University Press

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Public Opinion, Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Press "ONE" for English examines how Americans form opinions on language policy issues such as declaring English the official language, printing documents in multiple languages, and bilingual education. Deborah Schildkraut shows that people's conceptions of American national identity play an integral role in shaping their views. Using insights from American political thought and intellectual history, she highlights several components of that identity and shows how they are brought to bear on debates about language. Her analysis expands the range of factors typically thought to explain attitudes in such policy areas, emphasizing in particular the role that civic republicanism's call for active and responsible citizenship plays in shaping opinion on language issues. Using focus groups and survey data, Schildkraut develops a model of public conceptions of what it means to be American and demonstrates the complex ways in which people draw on these conceptions when forming and explaining their views. In so doing she illustrates how focus group methodology can help yield vital new insights into opinion formation. With the rise in the use of ballot initiatives to implement language policies, understanding opinion formation in this policy area has become imperative. This book enhances our understanding of this increasingly pressing concern, and points the way toward humane, effective, and broadly popular language policies that address the realities of American demographics in the twenty-first century while staying true to the nation's most revered values.

Book Chapters:

(2016) Ambivalence in American Public Opinion about Immigration, Routledge

Tags: Immigration & Citizenship, Public Opinion, Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Summary of trends in research on public opinion about immigration in the United States