Why We Vote : How Schools and Communities Shape Our Civic Life

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2008-07-21
  • Publisher: Princeton Univ Pr

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Why do more people vote--or get involved in other civic and political activities--in some communities than in others?Why We Votedemonstrates that our communities shape our civic and political engagement, and that schools are especially significant communities for fostering strong civic norms. Much of the research on political participation has found that levels of participation are higher in diverse communities where issues important to voters are hotly contested. In this well-argued book, David Campbell finds support for this view, but also shows that homogenous communities often have very high levels of civic participation despite a lack of political conflict. Campbell maintains that this sense of civic duty springs not only from one's current social environment, but also from one's early influences. The degree to which people feel a sense of civic obligation stems, in part, from their adolescent experience. Being raised and thus socialized in a community with strong civic norms leads people to be civically engaged in adulthood. Campbell demonstrates how the civic norms within one's high school impact individuals' civic involvement--even a decade and a half after those individuals have graduated. Efforts within America's high schools to enhance young people's sense of civic responsibility could have a participatory payoff in years to come, the book concludes; thus schools would do well to focus more attention on building civic norms among their students.

Table of Contents

List of Figuresp. ix
List of Tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction: Voting Alonep. 1
What You Do Now Depends on Where You Are Nowp. 11
Putting Madison and Tocqueville to the Test: The Dual Motivations Theory of Public Engagementp. 13
Further Implications of the Dual Motivations Theoryp. 50
Social Networksp. 76
What You Did Then Depends on Where You Were Thenp. 93
Social Environments and Adolescents' Public Engagementp. 95
What You Do Now Depends on What You Did Thenp. 129
The Links between Adolescents' and Adults' Public Engagementp. 131
What You Do Now Depends on Where You Were Thenp. 145
Adolescents' Social Environments and Adults' Public Engagement: The Civic Motivation Modelp. 147
Conclusion: Implications for Theory and Policyp. 180
Data Sourcesp. 201
Questions from the 1996 National Election Study Used in Table 2.1 and Figure 2.4p. 204
Full Results of Models Discussed in the Textp. 208
Notesp. 223
Bibliographyp. 243
Indexp. 261
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