Theories of Political Literacy

Theories of Political Literacy This paper tests cognitive mobilization, structural role, and traditional socialization agent theories of political literacy, conceptualized as the potential for informed political participation. Political literacy cannot be measured directly, but we presume that if people are politically literate, they understand party differences and know basic political concepts and facts. Other names for this concept include political expertise, political awareness, and civic competence. Using Jennings and Niemi's youth-parent panel socialization data, we conclude that cognitive mobilization has the largest effect on political literacy, followed fairly closely by structural roles. Socialization agents have a very minor effect. This conclusion partly supports prevailing cognitive mobilization explanations of this concept. However, self-selection causes much of the relationship between political literacy and education, making education's cognitive mobilization potential far smaller than most political scientists assumed. Political involvement and ability are the main sources of cognitive mobilization instead, and education's spurious cross-sectional effect primarily reflects structural roles. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

Theories of Political Literacy

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Publisher
Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
Copyright
Copyright © 1997 by Plenum Publishing Corporation
Subject
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1023/A:1024895721905
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper tests cognitive mobilization, structural role, and traditional socialization agent theories of political literacy, conceptualized as the potential for informed political participation. Political literacy cannot be measured directly, but we presume that if people are politically literate, they understand party differences and know basic political concepts and facts. Other names for this concept include political expertise, political awareness, and civic competence. Using Jennings and Niemi's youth-parent panel socialization data, we conclude that cognitive mobilization has the largest effect on political literacy, followed fairly closely by structural roles. Socialization agents have a very minor effect. This conclusion partly supports prevailing cognitive mobilization explanations of this concept. However, self-selection causes much of the relationship between political literacy and education, making education's cognitive mobilization potential far smaller than most political scientists assumed. Political involvement and ability are the main sources of cognitive mobilization instead, and education's spurious cross-sectional effect primarily reflects structural roles.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 14, 2004

References

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