The importance of political context for understanding civic engagement: A longitudinal analysis

Alina Oxendine, John L. Sullivan, Eugene Borgida, Eric Riedel, Melinda Jackson, Jessica Dial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

We contend that political context is important to consider when analyzing social capital and that context has an important but neglected impact on understanding the consequences of civic activity. Our focus is on the influence of rural, local leadership in two Minnesota communities and policies that these elites have developed to bring Internet connectivity to their citizens. One city developed a community electronic network and the other opted for an individualistic, entrepreneurial approach to information technology. Using a quasi-experimental research design and four-wave panel data, we find that elite policy approaches interact with civic activity to predict technology use among citizens, even long after the policies' initial implementation. In the city with a community network, residents who are integrated into civic life are able to harness these political resources to become more technologically sophisticated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-67
Number of pages37
JournalPolitical Behavior
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2007

Keywords

  • Civic engagement
  • Electronic network
  • Social capital
  • Technology

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