McCluskey, Michael R.; Deshpande, Sameer; Shah, Dhavan V.; McLeod, Douglas M.
December 2004
International Journal of Public Opinion Research;Winter2004, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p437
Academic Journal
A range of factors may contribute to a sense that citizens are less able to influence public policy and engage in self-governance than should ideally be the case, yet research has rarely considered the distinction between citizens' judgments of how much influence they do have, how much they ought to have, and how the gap between these two perceptions affects various modes of participation. We contend that these two distinct efficacy judgments are tied to community integration and media use, yet have very different consequences for political participation. Specifically, we predict that when actual citizen efficacy fails to meet expectations, people will tend to favor more individual forms of political participation over collective efforts. Using data from a random digit dialing community survey, this research finds: (i) that evaluations of desired citizen efficacy are conceptually different from evaluations of actual citizen efficacy; (2) that demographics, community integration, and mass media use significantly predict both types of efficacy- but do so differently; and (3) that the efficacy gap positively predicts individual forms of political participation and negatively predicts collective action.


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