Title page for ETD etd-11172010-091050

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Gilmore, Jr., James A.
Author's Email Address jgilmore@bayardresearch.com
URN etd-11172010-091050
Title Explaining and Predicting Suggested Relationships between Human Social Capital, Citizen Political Trust, and Citizen Political Engagement
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Human Resource Education Workforce Development
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Holton, Ed Committee Chair
Burnett, Michael Committee Member
Hatala, John-Paul Committee Member
Johnson, Geraldine Committee Member
Verman, Satish Committee Member
Hogan, Robert Dean's Representative
  • political engagement
  • social capital
  • political trust
Date of Defense 2010-10-27
Availability unrestricted
The United States of America was built on the foundation of a representative democracy. Citizens engage in various political activities to elect representation to create policies and programs that may benefit individuals, groups of individuals, and special interests. A citizenís type of political engagement and level of political engagement may be influenced by the individual and group resources a citizen possesses, as well as the citizenís level of trust in government to respond to their individual or group needs.

This study contributes to the literature on political engagement by suggesting factors that predict political engagement in the United States. The goal of this study was to explore predictors of political engagement in the United States. Data from the National Politics Survey 2004 was used to analyze and interpret findings related to the nine hypotheses in this study. Survey items were selected from the survey to measure political trust, social capital, and political engagement. Citizen level of trust in the national government was used to measure political trust. Individual and group resource variables such as income, educational level, ethnic mix of friends, ethnic mix of neighborhood, closeness of ideas and interests to people, and maintaining or blending cultures were used to measure social capital. Three dependent variables were used to measure political engagement; voting, talking to others to persuade them to vote for or against a party or candidate, and attending a political rally in support of a particular candidate. Each dependent variable was measured separately against the independent variables in a hierarchical regression analysis.

The results indicated that certain Socioeconomic Status variables, social capital variables, and the political trust variable failed to meaningfully predict citizen political engagement related to voting and attending political meetings or rallies, and had minimal meaningful predictability to talking to others to persuade citizens to vote for a specific party or candidate. The results also indicated noteworthy biases in the dataset that contributed to the modelís inability to meaningfully predict political engagement based on the variables suggested in this study.

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