, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 29-49

Participatory Reactions to Policy Threats: Senior Citizens and the Defense of Social Security and Medicare

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The sociodemographic factors emphasized in much participation research cannot explain abrupt changes in levels of activity. This study shows how threat of undesirable policy change acts as an impetus to participatory activity, helping to explain temporal variation in participation. Newly available individual-level time-series data are used to show surges in senior citizen letter writing in response to threats to Social Security and Medicare during the 1980s. Policy threat interacts with individual characteristics to produce variations in participatory reaction congruent with the magnitude of the threat to the individual.