*Direct correspondence to Dr. Martha Kropf, Department of Political Science, 440 Fretwell Hall, University of North Carolina–Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223 〈email@example.com〉. Data and coding information are available from the author. Funding for this project came from the Aspen Institution Nonprofit Sector Research Fund (Grant 96-2-NSRF-06). Special thanks are due to John Fuller (formerly Senior Research Director, PBS) and the Membership Directors of WTTW-TV, WETA-TV, and KAET-TV, who provided membership lists. Thank you to Dr. Laura Langbein and Dr. Stephen Knack for their helpful comments. Finally, thanks to Dr. John Szmer for his helpful comments and encouragement.
Won't You Be My Neighbor? Norms of Cooperation, Public Broadcasting, and the Collective Action Problem*
Article first published online: 14 JUL 2009
© 2009 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
Social Science Quarterly
Volume 90, Issue 3, pages 538–552, September 2009
How to Cite
Kropf, M. (2009), Won't You Be My Neighbor? Norms of Cooperation, Public Broadcasting, and the Collective Action Problem. Social Science Quarterly, 90: 538–552. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2009.00630.x
- Issue published online: 14 JUL 2009
- Article first published online: 14 JUL 2009
Objectives. The logic of collective action suggests that public broadcasting stations should not receive the empirically observed level of member support they do. Why do people contribute to public television when they can view it without contributing?
Methods. The hypothesis tested is that “norms of cooperation” govern the behavior of individuals in collective action situations. This article tests the hypothesis with an original survey of public television viewers in three large communities.
Results. The survey data provide support for the “norms of cooperation” hypothesis. The higher the level of characteristics of an individual that measure cooperation, the more likely the individual is to give to public broadcasting, all other factors being equal.
Conclusions. Norms of cooperation—an important part of social capital—help overcome the logic of collective action where it concerns public television contributions.