Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Sherkat, Darren

Abstract

As the cultural diversity of the United States increases, more researchers are using socio-behavioral perspectives to explain health disparities. These studies are not unwarranted; high incidence rates in conditions like hypertension, obesity, and diabetes in given populations do suggest that cultural factors influence morbidity. But rarely does research examine how political culture affects health. I investigate this relationship using four waves of the National Survey of Black Americans. I focus on factors like political partisanship, electoral and political participation, Black socio-political beliefs, and system perception. Results from several statistical analyses show that African Americans who do not participate in mainstream politics have better health than those that do participate. Findings also suggest that the adoption of Black political orientations positively affects health satisfaction. Other results on key demographic factors are consistent with the wider literature which suggests that age, socioeconomic status, coverage, marital status, and religious identity all influence health. This study is significant because it contributes to a small, but emerging body of literature that examines the connection between political factors and wellness outcomes.

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