Chapter 9: Civic Participation in America

In this chapter, the ways in which Americans participate in politics and in their society are compared to those in other affluent Western democracies. After reading and reviewing the material in this chapter, you should be able to do each of the following:

  1. Explain why Americans vote at a lower rate than most other Western populations.
  2. Describe Robert Putnam’s “bowling alone” thesis, including the evidence on which it is based.
  3. Compare charitable giving in the United States and other Western societies.
  4. Discuss the relationship between class, race, and ethnicity and various forms of political engagement.
  5. Explain the role played by religion and religious organizations when it comes to civic engagement in the United States.
  6. Make an argument concerning what the chapter calls “rites of civism and community” and whether they perform mainly positive or negative functions from the standpoint of promoting democratic values.