Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 753–776 | Cite as

Political Participation and Civic Courage: The Negative Effect of Transparency on Making Small Campaign Contributions

Original Paper

Abstract

This study assesses whether public disclosure of campaign contributions affects citizens’ willingness to give money to candidates. In the American states, campaign finance laws require disclosure of private information for contributors at relatively low thresholds ranging from $1 to $300. The Internet has made it relatively easy to publicize such information in a way that changes the social context for political participation. Drawing on social influence theory, the analysis suggests that citizens are sensitive to divulging private information, especially those who are surrounded by people with different political views. Using experimental data from the 2011 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies, it demonstrates how individuals refrain from making small campaign contributions or reduce their donations to avoid disclosing their identities. The conclusion discusses the implications of transparency laws for political participation, especially for small donors.

Keywords

Political participation Campaign contributions Political transparency Social influence theory Political finance law Internet and politics 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Massachusetts, AmherstAmherstUSA

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