Cultivating Democracy: Civic Environments and Political Socialization in America

Cultivating Democracy: Civic Environments and Political Socialization in America

by James G. Gimpel, J. Celeste Lay, Jason E. Schuknecht
     
 

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Scholars across several social science disciplines have indicated that the behavior described by the term "civic engagement" is girded by a set of attitudes that show knowledge about, and positive evaluations of, government and politics. Drawing on extensive interviews with high school students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, Cultivating Democracy

Overview

Scholars across several social science disciplines have indicated that the behavior described by the term "civic engagement" is girded by a set of attitudes that show knowledge about, and positive evaluations of, government and politics. Drawing on extensive interviews with high school students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, Cultivating Democracy examines the sources of those attitudes, including individual characteristics, and the qualities of local environments that shape the experiences of late adolescence.

The authors gathered data on adolescent attitudes by interviewing students in a wide variety of locations, from Baltimore's inner city and suburbs to the most affluent communities in Montgomery County, Maryland. Focusing initially on attitudes toward ethnic diversity and immigration, the authors expanded their focus to the political socialization of young people, including patriotism and political knowledge and participation.

The authors demonstrate how political socialization is shaped through the social messages presented to citizens by others. According to Gimpel, Lay, and Schuknecht, while formal education as a means of socializing youth is critically important, other useful means for communicating positive socializing messages, through political parties, elections, and the media, have been ignored. They recommend compensatory strategies to promote civic engagement among those who are at risk to be nonparticipants.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"... the authors' conclusions are articulate and apt. Superintendents and school board members are sure to find material in this book that either confirms or contradicts their assumptions about the relationships among politics, schooling, and community demographics." —Thomas Fallace, Mary Washington College, American School Board Journal, 8/1/2004

"Many scholars talk about integrating context into the study of political behavior and orientations, but few actually do it. Cultivating Democracy shows a way to take account of local context in political socialization." —Virginia Sapiro, Sophonisba Breckinridge Professor of Political Science and Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin

"In this important contribution to the revival of political socialization research, the authors remind us that characteristics of neighborhoods and communities profoundly affect the political socialization of young people. Among their key findings: ethnic, social, and political diversity increase civic information and stimulate political participation, while homogeneous and politically uncompetitive jurisdictions depress civic literacy, interest, and engagement. This book deepens our understanding of what must be done to reverse the decline in civic engagement among young adults." —William A. Galston, Sol I. Stern Professor of Civic Engagement, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland

" Cultivating Democracy provides an up-to-date, highly accessible guide to issues surrounding the political education of contemporary adolescents. This work should go a long way toward resuscitating the long-dormant field of political socialization, while simultaneously adding to our understanding of how social contexts affect political attitudes and behaviors. The authors show quite convincingly that neighborhood environments matter to whether children wind up participating in politics as adults, as well as the opinions they form, or fail to form, about a myriad of political subjects." —Diana Mutz, Director, Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics, Annenberg Public Policy Center

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815796145
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
10/15/2003
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
278
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

James G. Gimpel is a professor in the Government and Politics Department at the University of Maryland, College Park. J. Celeste Lay is a graduate student in the government and politics department at the University of Maryland. Jason E. Schuknecht is a senior research analyst at Westat, Inc.

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