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Alienation and Nonvoting in the United States: A Refined Operationalization

Priscilla L. Southwell
The Western Political Quarterly
Vol. 38, No. 4 (Dec., 1985), pp. 663-674
DOI: 10.2307/448619
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/448619
Page Count: 12
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Alienation and Nonvoting in the United States: A Refined Operationalization
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Abstract

Previous research on nonvoting has usually conceptualized alienation in a limited manner by equating it with either nonefficacy or cynicism. This assumption has resulted in the rejection of any hypothesized linkage between alienation and the decline in voter turnout since 1964. This paper relies on the dimensionality research on alienation in order to improve the operationalization of this concept. A cumulative index of alienation is created after analyzing the various interactive effects of the attitudes of powerlessness, cynicism, and meaninglessness. This index is included in an overall model of the voting decision which is estimated by probit analysis. These probit coefficients are then used to partition turnout decline since 1964. The results suggest that increasing levels of alienation are a prime reason for the decline in voter turnout of the last two decades.

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