The Bully Pulpit: Catholic and Protestant Churches, Neighborhoods, and Political Socialization in a New Democracy
31 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2015
Date Written: August 10, 2015
How do citizens in new democracies learn about elections and develop participatory orientations? Civil society organizations can promote political socialization, yet often fail to reach those lowest in resources. Churches constitute an often overlooked instance of civil society, one that is highly inclusive and provides frequent opportunities for interaction. Developing a case study of a municipal election campaign in a single Brazilian city, I find that exposure to political information in church is common, especially in evangelical churches and in low-education neighborhoods. Even more frequent than partisan discussion is promotion of non-partisan civic norms encouraging citizens to cast informed votes based on non-clientelistic criteria. Those exposed to civic and partisan messages know significantly more about the local campaign and are more likely to turn out. Messages encouraging a “conscientious vote” promote knowledge most strongly in low education neighborhoods, helping to equalize political information across the urban environment.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation