Expanding the Possibilities

Fredrick C. Harris and Daniel Gillion

in The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199235476
Published online May 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of American Politics

 Expanding the Possibilities

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This article tries to incorporate the perspectives on both conventional and so-called unconventional tactics into a toolbox theory of participation in which individuals employ a variety and a combination of participatory acts to achieve desired political and social goals. It also argues that individuals will choose actions that are selected less for their acceptability in the political culture than for their perceived effectiveness in obtaining desired political goals. But before this alternative perspective is considered, the article first outlines how political scientists and sociologists have conceptualized political activism. A toolbox framework of political behavior can be incorporated into a new research agenda by asking innovative questions, as well as through the data collection process and methodological approaches. From a toolbox perspective, there is the possibility that individuals are engaged as voters and boycotters, as political campaigners and demonstrators rather than as actors in two different sets of participatory worlds.

Keywords: toolbox theory; political behavior; political participation; political activism; political culture; political scientists; sociologists

Article.  7344 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; US Politics ; Political Behaviour

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