The Social Citizen: Peer Networks and Political Behavior by Betsy SinclairThe Social Citizen: Peer Networks and Political Behavior by Betsy Sinclair

The Social Citizen: Peer Networks and Political Behavior

byBetsy Sinclair

Paperback | December 10, 2012

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Human beings are social animals. Yet despite vast amounts of research into political decision making, very little attention has been devoted to its social dimensions. In political science, social relationships are generally thought of as mere sources of information, rather than active influences on one’s political decisions.
Drawing upon data from settings as diverse as South Los Angeles and Chicago’s wealthy North Shore, Betsy Sinclair shows that social networks do not merely inform citizen’s behavior, they can—and do—have the power to change it. From the decision to donate money to a campaign or vote for a particular candidate to declaring oneself a Democrat or Republican, basic political acts are surprisingly subject to social pressures. When members of a social network express a particular political opinion or belief, Sinclair shows, others notice and conform, particularly if their conformity is likely to be highly visible.
We are not just social animals, but social citizens whose political choices are significantly shaped by peer influence. The Social Citizen has important implications for our concept of democratic participation and will force political scientists to revise their notion of voters as socially isolated decision makers.

Betsy Sinclair is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago.
Title:The Social Citizen: Peer Networks and Political BehaviorFormat:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:December 10, 2012Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226922820

ISBN - 13:9780226922829

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Table of Contents


1. Introduction: Social Pressure and Participatory Democracy
2. Voting Together: Do the Neighbors Know We Voted?
3. Social Campaign Giving: Could You Please Take Out Your Checkbook?
4. Candidate Choice: What Makes a Democrat Vote like a Republican?
5. Peer-Pressured Party Identification: The Elephant in the Room
6. Conclusion: Social Pressure and the Democratic Experiment

Works Cited

Editorial Reviews

“The Social Citizen provides substantial evidence that our social networks play an important role in shaping our political actions. For many years, political scholars have focused on individual factors, like income and race, and how those affect citizens’ choices. . . . Social network researchers instead look at how social ties can influence political behavior. In The Social Citizen, Sinclair takes up the debate over individual and social factors and studies these variables, with a variety of research methods.”