The goal of this exercise is to explore whether the concept of linked fate applies to women and if so, how it influences attitudes toward women and issues that affect them. Frequencies, crosstabulation, and comparison of means will be used.
Linked fate is a concept traditionally used to describe when members of an identity group (African Americans, for example) elevate group interests above their own individual interests. Coming from a shared history of segregation, prejudice and discrimination, the sense of linked fate influences African Americans' political thinking and action, and places it in direct opposition to the American sense of individualism. Under individualism, success is caused by one's own efforts and is not dependent on the success of others. By contrast, the concept of linked fate posits that what is good for the group is good for the individual.
The concept of linked fate has important implications for identity, as well as vote choice and support for public policy.
While the concept of linked fate is usually applied primarily to blacks, researchers have been exploring whether it can be extended to other racial/ethnic groups, as well as women.
Possible research questions about linked fate include:
Data for this exercise come from the 2004 American National Election Study: Pre- and Post-Election Survey. The American National Election Studies (ANES) grew out of the Survey Research Center and the Center for Political Studies of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. These organizations, together, have been covering elections since 1952. ANES produces high quality data on voting, public opinion, and political participation to serve the research needs of social scientists, teachers, students, policy makers and journalists who want to better understand the theoretical and empirical foundations of national election outcomes.
Respondents in the 2004 ANES were interviewed before and after the November election. Questions cover a broad range of topics including demographic characteristics, attitudes toward candidates and parties, attitudes on different segments of the American public, attitudes on foreign policy matters, and political behavior. The ANES uses random sampling in order to produce representative data about the American electorate.
Variables used in this exercise include:
Linked Fate and Demographic Characteristics
The variable V045174 measures whether respondents feel linked to what happens with women, and was
asked only of women. For ease of analysis we recoded this variable to include only those respondents
who answered "yes" (coded as 1) or "no" (2). The new variable is called LINKEDFATE. Looking at the
Does the sense of linked fate vary for women based on age, race or education? To find out we recoded each of these variables into fewer categories for ease of analysis (the new variables are named AGE.CAT, NEWRACE, and EDU.CATS respectively).
Examine the results of the crosstab between
Now looking at the results table for
Finally turn your attention to the crosstab between
Attitudes Toward Women
Sense of pride in women's accomplishments is measured by the variable PRIDEWOM. Take a look at
the crosstab between
Feeling thermometers are often used to measure how respondents feel about a specific group of
people on a scale of 0 to 100. Scores of 0-49 indicate very cold or cold feelings, and scores of 50
and above indicate warm, or very warm feelings toward a specific group. Consider the results of the
Attitudes Toward Issues that Affect Women
The variable WELFARE measures respondents' views on federal spending for welfare, and whether
they thought it should be increased, decreased, or kept the same. Looking at the results of the
Finally, look at respondents' views on federal spending for childcare, and whether they thought
it should be increased, decreased, or kept the same. Consider the crosstab between
What percentage of women said that they feel linked to what happens with women? What percentage reported feeling linked "a lot?" What percentage said "not very much at all?"
Which age group reported the lowest sense of linked fate? Which group reported the highest? Which two racial groups exhibit the highest and lowest sense of linked fate respectively? What percentage of respondents without a high school diploma said that they feel linked to what happens with women? How does this compare to those with a college degree or more?
Do the women in the sample who feel linked to other women report feeling proud of women's accomplishments more often than women who don't?
Do they report feeling angry at the treatment of women more often than the women who do not feel linked to other women?
Do respondents who have a sense of linked fate report warmer or colder feelings toward women?
Does having a sense of linked fate appear to make a difference in respondents' level of support for federal spending on welfare? Does the comparison of means using the feeling thermometer measure and LINKEDFATE show a difference in respondents' feelings about people who are on welfare?
In terms of attitudes about spending on childcare, which group showed the highest level of support for increased spending for childcare? Which group was most likely to think that spending for childcare should be decreased? Does having children appear to make a difference in respondents' views on this issue? How about linked fate?
Things to think about when interpreting the results:
It is important to look at the amount of missing data in each relationship and think about the ways in which that might affect the generalizability of the results.
Weights (mathematical formulas) are often used to adjust the sample proportions, usually by race, sex, or age, to more closely match those of the general population. The analyses used in this guide did not use any weights, which may reduce the generalizability of the findings, but the resulting tables are accurate descriptions of the relationships found between these variables among these respondents.
Reading the results:
The goal of this exercise was to examine the relationship between gender and the concept of linked fate. Taken together, the results show that three quarters of the women in the sample have a sense of linked fate, and that women in their thirties, white and black women, and women with a college degree are the most likely to feel linked to what happens with women. Linked fate seemed to have little to no relationship to the relative warmth of respondents' feelings toward women in general, and people on welfare in particular. Neither did it relate to respondents' support for federal spending on welfare. Linked fate did appear to be related to respondents' pride in women's accomplishments and anger about the treatment of women in society, as well as their level of support for increased spending on childcare, where the highest level of support was found among women who have a sense of linked fate but who have no children.