How Engaged are American Citizens, and What is Civic Engagement Anyway?
26 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2019
Date Written: February 16, 2019
We introduce a new framing that accounts for trends and disparities in civic engagement. We orient along two axes: the modal, describing the extent to which civic engagement is structured, and its content, describing the extent to which civic engagement has partisan objectives. Accordingly, this structure creates four domains of civic engagement: associational-partisan (e.g., voting), social-partisan (e.g., boycotting), associational-civic (e.g., participating in Parent-Teacher Organizations), and social-civic (e.g., talking with neighbors). Using data from the Current Population Survey and item response theory methods, we generate civic engagement scores in each of these domains for as many as 35,618 U.S. respondents. Similar to prior studies, income and educational attainment are associated with large disparities in civic engagement across all domains. However, in contrast to prior studies, young Americans are not outpacing older Americans in social-partisan engagement; rather, older Americans are more engaged in every sector of engagement we measure.
Keywords: Civic engagement, partisan engagement, disparities
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