Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-559fc8cf4f-67gxp Total loading time: 0.676 Render date: 2021-02-24T21:07:21.951Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

City Size and Civic Involvement in Metropolitan America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

J. Eric Oliver
Affiliation:
Princeton University

Abstract

Given the coincidence between America's recent migration to smaller, suburban cities and declines in civic participation, Dahl's speculations on the ideal-sized democratic polity have gained more pertinence. I explore the effects of city size on participation in four local civic activities using 1990 data. Controlling for both individual- and city-level characteristics, I find people in larger cities are much less likely to contact officials, attend community or organizational meetings, or vote in local elections. Lower civic participation is attributable partly to differences in social relations and psychological orientation between residents of larger and smaller places. People in big cities are less likely to be recruited for political activity by neighbors and are less interested in local affairs. These differences occur irrespective of the size of the surrounding metropolitan area and demonstrate the importance of municipal institutions for fostering civil society. The implications for studies of participation, suburbanization, and democratic political theory are discussed.

Type
Research Note
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2000

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

References

Achen, Christopher, and Shively, W. Phillips. 1993. Cross-Level Inference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Berry, Brian. 1972. “Latent Structure of the American Urban System.” In City Classification Handbook: Methods of Applications, ed. Berry, Brian and Smith, Katherine. New York: Wiley-Interscience.Google Scholar
Berry, Jeffrey M., Portney, Kent E., and Thomson, Ken. 1993. The Rebirth of Urban Democracy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
Bott, Elizabeth. 1971. Family and Social Networks. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Dahl, Robert. 1967. “The City in the Future of Democracy.” American Political Science Review 61 (12): 953–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dahl, Robert, and Tufte, Edward. 1973. Size and Democracy. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Deutsch, Karl. 1961. “Social Mobilization and Political Development.” American Political Science Review 55 (09): 493514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Finifter, Ada. 1970. “Dimensions of Political Alienation.” American Political Science Review 64 (06): 389410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Finifter, Ada, and Abramson, Paul R.. 1975. “City Size and Feelings of Political Competence.” Public Opinion Quarterly 39 (Summer): 189–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fischer, Claude. 1976. “The City and Political Psychology.” American Political Science Review 69 (09): 559–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fischer, Claude. 1982. To Dwell among Friends, Personal Networks in Town and City. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Fischer, Claude. 1995. “The Subcultural Theory of Urbanism: A Twentieth-Year Assessment.” American Journal of Sociology 101 (11): 543–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hansen, Steven, Palfrey, Thomas, and Rosenthal, Howard. 1987. “The Downsian Model of Electoral Participation: Formal Theory and Empirical Analysis of the Constituency Size Effect.” Public Choice 52 (Spring): 1533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Huckfeldt, Robert, and Sprague, John. 1995. Citizens, Politics, and Social Communication: Information and Influence in an Election Campaign. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kasarda, John D., and Janowitz, Morris. 1974. “Community Attachment in Mass Society.” American Sociological Review 39 (08): 328–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Latane, Bibb, and Darley, John. 1970. The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn't He Help? Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
Lewin, Kurt. 1935. Principles of Topological Psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
Lofland, Lyn. 1973. A World of Strangers: Order and Action in Urban Public Space. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Massey, Douglas, and Denton, Nancy. 1993. American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Milbrath, Lester, and Goel, M. L.. 1982. Political Participation. Washington, DC: University Press of America.Google Scholar
Montesquieu, Charles. [1748] 1991. The Spirit of Laws. Littleton, CO: F. B. Rothman.Google Scholar
Nie, Norman, Powell, G. Bingham Jr., and Prewitt, Kenneth. 1969. “Social Structure and Political Participation: Developmental Relationships.” American Political Science Review 63 (06): 361–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Oliver, J. Eric. 1999. “The Effects of Metropolitan Economic Segregation on Local Civic Involvement.” American Journal of Political Science 43 (01): 186212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Olson, Mancur. 1965. The Logic of Collective Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Peterson, Paul. 1981. City Limits. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Putnam, Robert. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
Putnam, Robert. 1995. “Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America.” PS: Political Science & Politics 28 (06): 664–83.Google Scholar
Reisman, David. 1953. The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.Google Scholar
Rosenstone, Steven, and Hansen, John Mark. 1994. Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. New York: MacMillan.Google Scholar
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. [1772] 1994. Discourse on Political Economy and the Social Contract. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Schneider, Mark. 1987. “Income Homogeneity and the Size of Suburban Government.” Journal of Politics 49 (03): 3653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Simmel, George. [1905] 1969. “The Great City and Cultural Life.” In Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities, ed. Sennett, Richard. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Pp. 2642.Google Scholar
Suttles, Gerald. 1972. The Social Construction of Communities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Teixiera, Ruy. 1992. The Disappearing American Voter. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
Tiebout, Charles. 1956. “A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures.” Journal of Political Economy 64 (10): 416–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tonnies, Ferdinand. 1988. Community and Society. New York: Transaction.Google Scholar
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1975. Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Bicentennial Edition), Part 2. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1991. 1990 Census of Population and Housing: Summary Tape File 3 (AL - WY). Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of the Census.Google Scholar
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1993. Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1993 (113th ed.). Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
Verba, Sidney, and Nie, Norman. 1972. Participation in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Verba, Sidney, Schlozman, Kay, and Brady, Henry. 1995. Voice and Equality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Verba, Sidney, Schlozman, Kay, Brady, Henry, and Nie, Norman. 1995. American Citizen Participation Study, 1990 [computer file] (Study #6635), ICPSR version. Chicago: University of Chicago, National Opinion Research Center (NORC) [producer], 1995. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1995.Google Scholar
Weber, Max. [1905] 1958. The City. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.Google Scholar
Wattenberg, Martin. 1996. The Decline of American Political Parties. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
Wilson, James Q. 1972. Political Organizations. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
Wirth, Louis. [1938] 1969. “Urbanism as a Way of Life”. In Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities, ed. Sennett, Richard. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Pp. 6783.Google Scholar
Wolfinger, Raymond E., and Rosenstone, Steven J.. 1980. Who Votes. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 54 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th February 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

City Size and Civic Involvement in Metropolitan America
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

City Size and Civic Involvement in Metropolitan America
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

City Size and Civic Involvement in Metropolitan America
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *