Civic Engagements: Resolute Partisanship or Reflective Deliberation


  • We should especially like to thank Russ Neuman, with whom we have developed the theoretical framework that underlies the article. We also deeply appreciate the large number of colleagues who gave us useful suggestions along the way. Among them are included Jamie Druckman, Jim Gibson, Howie Lavine, John Hibbing, Nick Valentino, Ted Brader, Michael Neblo, George Rabinowitz, Marco Steenbergen, Liz Suhay, Robert Huckfeldt, and Kristen Monroe. Finally, we want to thank the editor and the reviewers for their genuinely helpful guidance.

Michael MacKuen is Burton Craige Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Political Science, CB# 3265 Hamilton Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3265 ( Jennifer Wolak is Assistant Professor, University of Colorado, Department of Political Science, 333 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0333 ( Luke Keele is Associate Professor, The Ohio State University, 2140 Derby Hall, Columbus, OH 43201 (keele.4@polisci.osu.ed). George E. Marcus is Full Professor, Williams College, Department of Political Science, 2 Morey House, Williamstown, MA 01267 (


Why do people practice citizenship in a partisan rather than in a deliberative fashion? We argue that they are not intractably disposed to one type of citizenship, but instead adopt one of two different modes depending on the strategic character of current circumstances. While some situations prompt partisan solidarity, other situations encourage people to engage in open-minded deliberation. We argue that the type of citizenship practiced depends on the engagement of the emotions of anxiety and aversion. Recurring conflict with familiar foes over familiar issues evokes aversion. These angry reactions prepare people for the defense of convictions, solidarity with allies, and opposition to accommodation. Unfamiliar circumstances generate anxiety. Rather than defend priors, this anxiety promotes the consideration of opposing viewpoints and a willingness to compromise. In this way, emotions help people negotiate politics and regulate the kinds of citizenship they practice.