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The Social Context of the Rank-and-File Student Activist: A Test of Four Hypotheses

Roger M. Kahn and William J. Bowers
Sociology of Education
Vol. 43, No. 1 (Winter, 1970), pp. 38-55
DOI: 10.2307/2112058
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2112058
Page Count: 18
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The Social Context of the Rank-and-File Student Activist: A Test of Four Hypotheses
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Abstract

This paper examines, within colleges of varying institutional quality, a core of characteristics that previous studies have identified as strongly associated with students' political activism. We find that there is no consistent association between socioeconomic background and activism within quality contexts; that academic commitment is related to activism only at the better institutions; that majoring in the humanities and social sciences is associated with activism primarily at the better institutions; and that being intellectually oriented is associated with activism in all quality contexts. The higher rates of student activism found to prevail at the nation's leading institutions are not simply a function of the kinds of students they attract. These institutions foster or promote activism among all categories of students. We conclude that in future research more attention should be focused on the institutions where activism is concentrated and the issues that concern the student activist.

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