Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Gregory Young

Abstract

Abstract: Sikhs have been largely ignored in the literature surrounding criminal justice and religious tolerance. The many pressures faced by this group, including hate crimes, present an urgent need for political scientists to understand the issues this community faces and further, to challenge those issues to ensure their well-being. This research examines both of these concepts through two separate analyses: a meta-analysis and a survey experiment. In the meta-analysis, the Sikh experience is contextualized by assessing trends in media coverage and representation of turbans in the United States. This section reports a meta-analysis of 81 published journals, articles, and studies in order to analyze the media’s impact on the images, stereotypes, and representations of turbans and the Sikh identity. The research finds that most studies on American Sikh representation included discussions of “terrorism,” “9/11” and “Islam.” This meta-analysis shows that Sikhs tend to be negatively framed as “victims” in American media and are often covered after tragedies. In the survey experiment, 478 individuals in the United States were asked a series of questions to determine perceptions towards Sikh Americans. As per the meta-analysis findings, a video was created as a test in this survey experiment for a randomly selected 50% of the survey sample to watch explaining Sikhism and depicting Sikhs in a positive manner. The survey research finds that such media exposure and information significantly improves positive perceptions towards Sikh Americans and challenges many of the stereotypes perpetuated by the media mentioned above. Implications of all these findings are discussed.

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