Explaining U.S. civic action: dispositions, networks, religion, and September 11 Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Beyerlein, Kraig Kerry
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology
  • This dissertation advances our understanding of the enduring theoretical question of why certain people participate in activism while others do not. Contrary to prior theoretical and empirical models of differential participation, it specifies and tests a synthetic model of activism, integrating dispositional and relational perspectives. Because these perspectives have generally been pursued in isolation, our knowledge of the processes that explain activist participation has been limited. Combining dispositional and relational perspectives offers a more comprehensive view of activism by showing how these perspectives work in concert to mobilize people to participate in volunteer efforts in communities. My synthetic model of activism has the additional strength of addressing the important issue of selection versus influence concerning social network and organization effects. This dissertation also examines the demobilizing character of social networks and organizations, which has generally gone unnoticed in scholarship on activist participation until recently. It does so for the case of religious-based activism, considering the hindering effects of integration into quiescent clergy-led congregations and embeddedness in "bonding" religious networks. In addition, this dissertation explicates the pathways through which congregations promote participation in civic engagement in communities, focusing on exposure to encouragement from activist clergy, location in activist religious peer networks, and cultivation of transposable skills. Last, this dissertation focuses on the nature of civic response after the September 11 terrorist attacks, investigating whether tragedy-related factors promoted involvement in efforts to help victims, families of victims, or rescue workers as well as others in communities. It also considers how prosocial dispositions shaped Americans' responses to 9/11 and how these responses in turn affected post-9/11 helping behavior as well as the precise dimensions of social networks and organization that were most important for mobilizing participation in helping behavior after the 9/11 tragedy.
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  • In Copyright
  • Bollen, Kenneth
  • Open access

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