Bowling Young: How Youth Voluntary Associations Influence Adult Political Participation


ized as a nation of joiners, whose democracy is rooted in civil society (Tocqueville [1848] 1988). The participation of American citizens in families, schools, workplaces, and voluntary associations greatly influences their involvement in voting, campaigns, political parties, and community projects. As such, institutional affiliations shape the inputs that the American government receives from its citizens. Civic involvement, however, is arguably declining as adults participate less and less in voluntary associations (Skocpol and Fiorina 1999:2; Putnam 1995, 2000). The result is that only certain voices reach the government and that many citizens’ concerns go unheard. The reality of political participation in the United States is that some citizens are active and others are not (Verba, Schlozman, and Brady 1995; Schlozman, Burns, and Verba 1999; Putnam 2000; Edwards, Foley, and Diani 2001). Such inequality undermines the representativeness of American democracy, which, in an era of a closely divided electorate, has far-reaching consequences. Understanding how people become politically active (how they become “joiners”) is thus crucial for scholars of social inequality and political reformers alike. For most citizens, the process of becoming politically active (or inactive) begins in early adulthood when people initially become eligiBowling Young: How Youth Voluntary Associations Influence Adult Political Participation


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@inproceedings{McFarland2006BowlingYH, title={Bowling Young: How Youth Voluntary Associations Influence Adult Political Participation}, author={Daniel A. McFarland and Reuben J. Thomas and Eamonn Callan and David C Diehl and Ed Haertel and Jerry A. Jacobs and Kathleen Mullan Harris}, year={2006} }