The authors gratefully acknowledge that this research was supported by a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation.
Political Participation and Cumulative Disadvantage: The Impact of Economic and Social Hardship on Young Citizens
Article first published online: 5 AUG 2008
© 2008 The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Journal of Social Issues
Volume 64, Issue 3, pages 571–593, September 2008
How to Cite
Pacheco, J. S. and Plutzer, E. (2008), Political Participation and Cumulative Disadvantage: The Impact of Economic and Social Hardship on Young Citizens. Journal of Social Issues, 64: 571–593. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2008.00578.x
- Issue published online: 5 AUG 2008
- Article first published online: 5 AUG 2008
In this article, we seek to provide the most comprehensive exploration to date of the effects of economic and social disadvantage on young citizens' voter turnout. We look at four overlapping domains of hardship—those rooted in (a) the family context, (b) the community context, (c) the school context, and (d) major events and life transitions. Our conceptual model of cumulative advantage/disadvantage identifies the different ways in which disadvantages can have cumulative effects on social outcomes generally and on civic participation in particular. Our framework also suggests how patterns of advantage and disadvantage may be mediated by social institutions. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey, we show that disadvantages rooted in the family have major impact on all groups of young citizens and that family disadvantage interacts with school disadvantage for whites. We also show that the effects of early parenthood, being arrested, and dropping out of school have differential effects depending on race. We also show that community colleges function as civic leveling institutions—especially for African American youth.