Civic Engagement and Patriotism


  • I will share all data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study. Please contact Sean Richey for a copy of the web appendix mentioned below. This research received beneficial comments from Sarah Gershon and Daniel Young. It was presented at the 2011 Midwest Political Science Association annual conference in Chicago, IL.

Direct correspondence to Sean Richey, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Georgia State University, 38 Peachtree Central Ave., Atlanta, GA 30303 〈〉.



Recent research has shown a link between patriotism and civic participation. This research assumes that the causal arrow flows from patriotism to civic participation, but a counterperspective in the social capital literature assumes that causation runs in the opposite direction, from civic participation to patriotism. I seek to untangle these relationships by positing a bicausal relationship between these beliefs and actions.


I use a structural equation model of survey data from the 2004 American National Election Studies.


The findings show that constructive patriotism promotes civic participation, and that civic participation separately increases constructive patriotism. Conversely, I also find that blind patriotism lowers civic participation, and that civic participation lowers blind feelings.


This research provides a fuller picture of the relationship of patriotism with civic participation than has been provided previously in political theory or political psychology. These results are then tied to a current debate about the benefits of civic education and service learning.