What Knowledge is of Most Worth?

Paul E. Johnson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Most research on political knowledge focuses on declarative knowledge or specific facts about politics. By contrast, this chapter posits the importance of operative knowledge action, which is comprised of: (1) the intention to achieve one or more goals that define a given civic task; (2) a process for achieving these goals; and (3) heuristics for selecting actions down a goal path. It is suggested that operative knowledge for civic action lies at the heart of many political activities and should be assessed whenever researchers attempt to infer the knowledge individuals have of the process for participating in the political life of their society. This chapter develops an argument for how operative knowledge is acquired, the contexts in which it is deployed, the mental models that initiate its use, and provides examples of heuristic elements of this knowledge that lead to civic behaviors. Finally, it proposes the concept of civic intelligence as a general rubric under which to consider different kinds of political knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Political Psychology of Democratic Citizenship
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199893904
ISBN (Print)9780195335453
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010


  • Expertise
  • Heuristics
  • Political knowledge
  • Political participation
  • Sophistication


Dive into the research topics of 'What Knowledge is of Most Worth?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this