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A New Approach to the Study of Political Participation


Levin Fiorelli, Ines (2012) A New Approach to the Study of Political Participation. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Z9XP72X2.


This thesis develops and applies a new theoretical and empirical approach to the study of political participation. It starts with a thorough review of existing theories and evidence of the determinants of political participation. The theories discussed in the literature review are subsequently synthesized using a dual-process account of participation decisions. The central premise of the account is that individuals engage in reasonable deliberation regarding the benefits and costs of participating in political activities, but this reasoning is limited by automatic responses to values, social identifications, and habits that predispose the individual toward participation or abstention. The next chapter develops a new statistical procedure for the study of political participation, based on mixture modeling and simultaneous consideration of involvement in multiple political activities that is consistent with the dual-process account of political participation discussed in the previous chapter. In this model the relationship between underlying utilities and participation probabilities is regulated by a parameter that captures individual propensities toward political participation. After that, the statistical method is applied to survey data from the 1990 American Citizen Participation Study (Verba et al., 1995), where it is used to test a series of hypotheses regarding the impact of resources and civic skills on political participation. Finally, the mixture modeling approach is applied to survey data from the 2008 Cooperative Congressional Elections Study (Ansolabehere, 2008), where it is used to measure the impact of perceptions of economic adversity and support for emergency economic policies on political participation.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Political Participation; Turnout; Civic Engagement; Mixture Modeling.
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Alvarez, R. Michael
Thesis Committee:
  • Alvarez, R. Michael (chair)
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick
  • Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent
  • Katz, Jonathan N.
Defense Date:19 July 2011
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:08022011-163233926
Persistent URL:
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Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:6566
Deposited By: Ines Levin Fiorelli
Deposited On:07 Mar 2017 20:20
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 23:52

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