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Rejoinder to Piven and Cloward

  • Stephen Earl Bennett

Extract

Piven and Cloward are right. Someone is confused. Readers of PS can decide who. Piven and Cloward claim they have been misunderstood. They say their goal, particularly in Why Americans Don't Vote, was to highlight the inadequacies of three “schools” of turnout studies, “party behavior,” “legal-institutional,” and “social-psychological,” and to suggest a “synthesis” of those approaches.

“Misunderstanding,” it seems, is widespread. At least two reviews of their book (Wattenberg, 1989; Pomper, 1989) faulted Piven and Cloward for failing to explain why, if personal registration is the main reason for low turnouts, voting has fallen during a period of liberalized statutes and for a “quick dismissal of attitudinal variables” (Wattenberg). Pomper (p. 1398) noted that Piven and Cloward “contemptuously dismiss (socialpsychological) explanations as ‘normal science’ and ‘the witless use of multiple correlational analyses,’ asserting instead that ‘the political context determines whether these factors will have a significant effect on participation’ ([Piven and Cloward, 1988b:] 117–120).” Bastedo (1989) interpreted Piven and Coward's 1989 article as strictly an attack on registration laws.

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References

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Bastedo, Ralph W. 1989. “Letter to the Editor.” PS, 22: 778.
Bennett, Stephen E. 1989. “Left Behind: Exploring Declining Turnout among Young Whites, 1964–1988.” Presented at the Southern Political Science Association's Annual Meeting, Memphis, TN., November 3–5.
Bennett, Stephen E., and Resnick, David. Forthcoming. “The Implications of Nonvoting for Democracy in the United States.” American Journal of Political Science, 34 (August).
Brody, Richard A. 1978. “The Puzzle of Political Participation in America.” In King, Anthony, ed. The New American Political System. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute.
Burnham, Walter Dean. 1982. The Current Crisis in American Politics. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burnham, Walter Dean. 1987. “Elections as Democratic Institutions.” In Elections in America, ed. Schlozman, Kay Lehman. Boston: Allen & Unwin.
Converse, Philip E., Clausen, Aage, and Miller, Warren E. 1965. “Electoral Myth and Reality: The 1964 Election.” American Political Science Review, 59: 321336.
Jackman, Robert W. 1987. “Political Institutions and Voter Turnout in the Industrial Democracies.” American Political Science Review, 81: 405423.
Kleppner, Paul. 1982. Who Voted? The Dynamics of Electoral Turnout, 1870–1980. New York: Praeger Publishers.
Mitchell, Glenn, and Wlezien, Christopher. 1989. “Voter Registration Laws and Turnout, 1972–1982.” Presented at the Midwest Political Science Association's Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, April 13–15.
Piven, Frances Fox, and Cloward, Richard A. 1988a. “National Voter Registration Reform: How It Might Be Won.” PS, 21: 868875.
Piven, Frances Fox, and Cloward, Richard A.. 1988b. Why Americans Don't Vote. New York: Pantheon.
Piven, Frances Fox, and Cloward, Richard A.. 1989. “Government Statistics and Conflicting Explanations of Nonvoting.” PS, 22: 580588.
Piven, Frances Fox, and Cloward, Richard A. 1990. “A Reply to Bennett.” PS 23: 172–73.
Pomper, Gerald M. 1989. “Review of Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, Why Americans Don't Vote,” American Political Science Review, 83: 13971398.
Powell, G. Bingham. 1986. “American Voter Turnout in Comparative Perspective.” American Political Science Review, 72: 2745.
Rosenstone, Steven J., and Wolfinger, Raymond E. 1978. “The Effect of Registration Laws on Voter Turnout.” American Journal of Political Science, 72: 2745.
Teixeira, Ruy A. 1987. Why Americans Don't Vote. New York: Greenwood Press.
Wattenberg, Martin. 1989. “Review of Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward. Why Americans Don't Vote.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 1: 267268.

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Rejoinder to Piven and Cloward

  • Stephen Earl Bennett

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