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Citizen Activity: Who Participates? What Do They Say?

  • Sidney Verba (a1), Kay Lehman Schlozman (a2), Henry Brady (a3) and Norman H. Nie (a4)

Abstract

We use responses to a large-scale national survey designed to oversample political activists to investigate the extent to which participant publics are representative of the public as a whole. Building upon the finding that while voters differ from nonvoters in their demographic attributes, their attitudes as measured by responses to survey questions are not distinctive, we consider a variety of political acts beyond voting that citizens can use to multiply their political input and to communicate more precise messages to policymakers. In addition, we consider not only respondents' demographic characteristics and policy attitudes but also their circumstances of economic deprivation and dependence upon government programs. Although activists are representative of the public at large in terms of their attitudes, they differ substantially in their demographic attributes, economic needs, and the government benefits they receive. Furthermore, in terms of the issues that animate participation, groups differentiated along these lines bring very different policy concerns to their activity.

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Citizen Activity: Who Participates? What Do They Say?

  • Sidney Verba (a1), Kay Lehman Schlozman (a2), Henry Brady (a3) and Norman H. Nie (a4)

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