Would You Like to Know More? Selection, Socialization, and the Political Attitudes of Military Veterans
26 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 28, 2016
Although research during the Vietnam era suggested that the political attitudes of American veterans were not significantly different from those of the public at large, more recent studies argue that this may not be the case for veterans of the all-volunteer military. Thus far, however, the reason for this difference has gone unexplored: are veterans from the volunteer era different because a certain type of person is drawn to military life (selection), or are their attitudes shaped by their service (socialization)? Using new survey data on the political attitudes of Americans, and statistical techniques designed to tease out the difference between selection and socialization effects, we examine this question, assessing the extent to which the two factors play a role in this attitudinal difference. Our results have implications for political representation, civil-military relations, and the role of formative experiences in political and psychological development more generally.
Keywords: Public Opinion, Veterans, Military, Survey Research
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