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ERIC Number: EJ763299
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1539-9664
Vote Early, Vote Often: The Role of Schools in Creating Civic Norms
Campbell, David E.
Education Next, v5 n3 p62-69 Sum 2005
This study aims to find a link between strong civic norms at school and engagement in the political process. Although adolescent civic engagement has been a topic of concern for many years, it has not been put to a careful empirical test, in part because few surveys of students contain detailed contextual information about their school community and track the students into adulthood. Fortunately, the University of Michigan's pioneering Youth Studies Series (YSS) does both. The YSS began in 1965, when a representative sample of the nation's high-school seniors and their parents were interviewed. These students were surveyed again in later years--1973 and 1982. Information was also gathered in 1965 from roughly 125 students from each sample member's high-school class. The author's analysis of these data proceeds in three stages. First, he examines whether the civic norms in a high school in 1965 affected whether adolescents anticipated being politically engaged as adults. Second, he tests whether the civic norms in the schools individuals attended in 1965 affected their likelihood of voting in the 1980 presidential election. He turns finally to exploring conditions that facilitate the development of civic engagement. The bottom line of this analysis is that the civic climate in high school has a great impact on voter turnout at least 15 years following graduation. What matters is that an adolescent's community, defined in this case as the high school, is populated with a high percentage of peers who express their belief that voting is an indicator of good citizenship. In fact, after accounting for the civic climate of an individual's high school, an individual's own belief that voting is a civic duty does not have an impact on voting as an adult. Any school-based reform aiming to enhance voter turnout among the rising generation should focus on ways to foster a strong civic climate. (Contains 3 figures.)
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Michigan