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Pathways to Participation

Paul Allen Beck and M. Kent Jennings
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 76, No. 1 (Mar., 1982), pp. 94-108
DOI: 10.2307/1960445
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1960445
Page Count: 15
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Pathways to Participation
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Abstract

The premise of this article is that adult participation in politics is affected by strong preadult forces in addition to the contemporaneous factors emphasized by recent studies. To test this premise, data are drawn from the 1965-1973 national socialization panel study of young Americans and their parents. Four causal models depicting pathways to participation among young adults are evaluated; each includes civic orientations as intervening variables. Three of the models assess the direct and indirect effects of parental characteristics--socioeconomic status, political activity, and civic orientations. The fourth model assesses the impact of adolescent involvement in high school activities. Taken individually, each pathway is shown to have an effect on adult participation, with parent socioeconomic status and high school activism having the most impact. When the four pathways are combined in a single model to reflect the connections among them, all remain important. The combined model illustrates the importance of a variety of methods of political learning. The combined model also demonstrates the crucial role of civic orientations in converting preadult experiences into later participation. Civic orientations are the primary carriers of preadult political learning. Overall, the results rebut the critics of socialization research who have questioned the existence of a linkage between early learning and adult political behavior.

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