Class and collective action: Variation in the participation of young adults in noninstitutionalized politics.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe aim of this research is (1) to test the hypothesis that participating in collective action varies by social class position, (2) to examine the mechanisms behind class effects in collective action in a general model of individual participation in collective action, and (3) to discuss the societal implications of these effects. Class position modifies the social process which determines who will participate in protest demonstrations or community problem solving. Class influences political socialization, an individual's network of interpersonal ties to others, and opportunity constraints which guide individual choices to participate in collective action. A model of these relations is tested empirically using secondary analysis of a nationwide, longitudinal survey of young adults and their parents (Jennings and Niemi's Youth-Parent Socialization Panel Study, 1965-1973). The findings show that working class young adults participate in collective action at a lower rate than the young adults in other class positions. The direct relationship between class and collective action participation is virtually nonexistant. It is the indirect effect of class through the development of a sense of efficacy (socialization) and membership in organizations (networks) that is significant in the prediction of who participates. The primary contribution of this work involves the formulation of a general model explaining individual participation in collective action. Further, by linking socialization and networks, this research attempts to bridge the micro-macro distinctions found in other explanations of collective action. Other contributions of this research lie in its implementation of a neo-Marxist definition of class and the utilization of alternative measures of collective action (protest participation and activity in community problem solving). In conclusion, finding that some individuals are hindered in their ability to participate in collective action has implications for the direction of social change efforts. It appears that inequality exists in the promotion of social issues even in the area of non-institutionalized politics. The findings suggest that the relationship between stratification and collective action should be explored further in future research.