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City Size and Civic Involvement in Metropolitan America
J. Eric Oliver
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 94, No. 2 (Jun., 2000), pp. 361-373
Published by: American Political Science Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2586017
Page Count: 13
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Cities, Metropolitan areas, Civics, Meetings, City politics, Citizen participation, Voting, Political science, Coefficients, Censuses
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Given the coincidence between America's recent migration to smaller, suburban cities and declines in civic participation, Dahl's speculations on the ideal-sized democratic polity have gained more pertinence. I explore the effects of city size on participation in four local civic activities using 1990 data. Controlling for both individual- and city-level characteristics, I find people in larger cities are much less likely to contact officials, attend community or organizational meetings, or vote in local elections. Lower civic participation is attributable partly to differences in social relations and psychological orientation between residents of larger and smaller places. People in big cities are less likely to be recruited for political activity by neighbors and are less interested in local affairs. These differences occur irrespective of the size of the surrounding metropolitan area and demonstrate the importance of municipal institutions for fostering civil society. The implications for studies of participation, suburbanization, and democratic political theory are discussed.
The American Political Science Review © 2000 American Political Science Association