The Compensation Effect of Civic Education on Political Engagement: How Civics Classes Make Up for Missing Parental Socialization
- 1.5k Downloads
The development of political engagement in early life is significant given its impact on political knowledge and participation. Analyses reveal a large influence of parents on their offspring’s curiosity about politics during their teenage years. Increasingly, civic education is also considered an important influence on political interest and orientations of young people as schools are assigned a crucial role in creating and maintaining civic equality. We study the effects of civic education on political engagement, focusing especially on whether and how civic education can compensate for missing parental political socialization. We use data from the Belgian Political Panel Study (2006–2011) and the U.S. Youth-Parent Socialization Panel Study (1965–1997), which both contain information on political attitudes and behaviors of adolescents and young adults, those of their parents, and on the educational curriculum of the young respondents. Our findings suggest that civics training in schools indeed compensates for inequalities in family socialization with respect to political engagement. This conclusion holds for two very different countries (the U.S. and Belgium), at very different points in time (the 1960s and the 2000s), and for a varying length of observation (youth to old age and impressionable years only).
KeywordsCivic education Political engagement Young people Latent growth curve analysis
The supplementary material, the code to replicate the recoding of the data and model estimation, as well as the data of the Belgian Political Panel Study (BPPS) can be downloaded from www.aneundorf.net/Publications. The data of the U.S. Youth-Parent Socialization Panel Study can be accessed from the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center and Center for Political Studies (ICPSR, study number 4037): http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR04037.v1. We would like to thank Marc Hooghe and his team for allowing us to use the BPPS dataset. Special thanks go to Ruth Dassonneville and Ellen Quintelier for answering our many queries in relation to the BPPS project. We presented earlier drafts of this paper at the following workshops and conferences: the 12th Dutch-Flemish Political Science Conference Politicologenetmaal (Ghent, Belgium, May 30/31, 2013); the workshop “Young people’s politics” (Lincoln, UK, September 5, 2014) organised by the PSA Specialist Group on Young People and Politics; the conference “Inequality of active citizenship: Can education mend the gap?” (London, UK, May 28/29, 2015) organized by LLAKES and AMCIS; as well as the workshop on “The crisis for contemporary youth: opportunities and civic values in comparative, longitudinal and inter-generational perspective” (London, UK, June 4/5, 2015) organized by LLAKES. We would like to thank the panelists for their useful comments. Lastly, we are grateful for the constructive feedback of the three reviewers and the editor of Political Behavior.
- Bollen, K. A., & Curran, P. J. (2006). Latent curve models. A structural equation perspective. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., Miller, W. E., & Stokes, D. E. (1960). The American voter. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Campbell, D., & Niemi, R. G. (2015). Teaching citizenship: State-level civic education requirements and political knowledge. American Political Science Review, forthcoming.Google Scholar
- Chaffee, S. H., Morduchowicz, R., & Galperin, H. (1998). Education for democracy in Argentina: Effects of a newspaper-in-school program. In O. Ichilov (Ed.), Citizenship and citizenship education in a changing World. London: Woburn.Google Scholar
- Commission, European. (2014). The structure of the European education systems 2014/15: Schematic diagrams. Brussels: The European Commission.Google Scholar
- Finlay, A., Wray-Lake, L., & Flanagan, C. A. (2010). Civic engagement during the transition to adulthood: Developmental opportunities and social policies at a critical juncture. In L. Sherrod, J. Torney-Purta, & C. A. Flanagan (Eds.), Handbook of research on civic engagement in youth. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Guardian of democracy: The civic mission of schools. (2011). Retrieved from www.civicmissionofschools.org.
- Händle, C., Oesterreich, D., & Trommer, L. (1999). Concepts of civic education in Germany based on a survey of expert opinion. In J. Torney-Purta, J. Schwille, & J. Amadeo (Eds.), Civic education across countries: Twenty-four national case studies from the IEA civic education project. Amsterdam: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.Google Scholar
- Hooghe, M., Havermans, N., Quintelier, E., & Dassonneville, R. (2011). Belgian political panel survey (BPPS), 2006–2011 Technical Report. Leuven: K.U. Leuven.Google Scholar
- Howe, P. (2010). Citizens adrift: The democratic disengagement of young Canadians. Vancouver: UBC Press.Google Scholar
- Humphries, M., Muller, C., & Schiller, K. S. (2013). The political socialization of adolescent children of immigrants. Social Studies Quarterly, 94(5), 1261–1280.Google Scholar
- Hyman, H. (1959). Political socialization. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Jennings, M. K., Markus, G. B., Niemi, R. G., & Stoker, L. (2005). Youth-parent socialization panel Study, 1965–1997: Four waves combined. ICPSR04037-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2005-11-04. doi: 10.3886/ICPSR04037.v1.
- Levine, P. (2007). The Future of democracy: Developing the next generation of American citizens. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England.Google Scholar
- Little, T. D. (2013). Longitudinal structural equation modelling. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
- Nie, N. H., & Hillygus, D. S. (2001). Education and democratic citizenship. In D. Ravitch & J. P. Viteritti (Eds.), Making good citizens: education and civil society. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Nie, N. H., Junn, J., & Stehlik-Barry, K. (1996). Education and democratic citizenship in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Niemi, R. G., & Junn, J. (1998). Civic education: What makes students learn. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Wattenberg, M. (2012). Is voting for young people? (3rd ed.). New York: Pearson.Google Scholar