Partisan Ambivalence, Citizen Competence, and American Democracy

Howard G. Lavine, Christopher D. Johnston and Marco R. Steenbergen

in The Ambivalent Partisan

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199772759
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979622 | DOI:

Series: Series in Political Psychology

Partisan Ambivalence, Citizen Competence, and American Democracy

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The final chapter of the book restates the theoretical model, summarizes the key empirical findings, responds to potential objections to the model and the analysis, and addresses normative issues associated with citizen competence and American democracy. The chapter concludes that the nature of partisanship—social identity versus rational updating—must be understood as fundamentally heterogeneous. It is also highly fluid: univalent and ambivalent partisans do not constitute unwavering differences in behavioral scripts; rather, their status is determined dynamically on the basis of a changing political environment and personal experiences of a situational nature (e.g., being unemployed). The chapter also concludes that poor citizen performance is not inextricably linked to a lack of formal education or political knowledge. Rather, what is at primary issue is motivation. The good citizen is the ambivalent citizen, and good citizenship requires critical loyalty.

Keywords: citizen competence; American democracy; the good citizen; nature of partisanship

Chapter.  9486 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Sociology

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