The Racial Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement

Jeff Manza, Christopher Uggen, Angela Behrens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter develops a broad historical overview, subjecting race-based theories about the adoption and development of felon disenfranchisement laws to scrutiny. It develops a systematic quantitative analysis that uses detailed information on the social and political makeup of individual states over a long historical period to examine how various factors affect the adoption and extension of state disenfranchisement laws. Why is race a logical culprit in the search to explain the development of felon disenfranchisement laws? In recent years, there has been an explosion of scholarship by social scientists and historians fingering race, and racial politics, as principal sources of the peculiar development of American political and legal culture. This scholarship includes three distinct types of argument: firstly, arguments about the interaction between race and the development of U.S. political institutions; secondly, arguments focusing on the impact of racial attitudes and racism; and thirdly, arguments that stress the nexus between race (and class) in the political economy of the American South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLocked Out
Subtitle of host publicationFelon Disenfranchisement and American Democracy
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199943975
ISBN (Print)9780195149326
StatePublished - May 24 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2006 by Oxford University Press, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Felon disenfranchisement
  • Political institutions
  • Race
  • Racial politics
  • Racism
  • State disenfranchisement laws


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