Junior Workshop 3:
Young People in American Politics
Why did young people support Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid? Why do older people support Hillary Clinton? Is there a youth vote? What about differences among the young? Why are some young people liberal and others conservative? Where do young people learn ideas about politics? Do relatives and friends shape your political choices? Do college experiences influence you? These are some of the questions you can explore in this workshop.
This workshop will teach you to use experiments and surveys to understand the psychology of the American voter – and perhaps gain insight into your own views and those of people you know. You will learn how to design a survey-experiment to test a specific hypothesis. You will run a pilot test with a convenience sample of people you know. You will use this pilot test to write a research proposal. This will position you well for the spring, when you can run your proposed study for your Junior Paper, if you choose.
The workshop entails team and individual work. Each of you will conduct a literature review to learn about the existing scholarship on a research question such as those listed above. You can share useful scholarly studies from the literature with each other but must write you own paper where you offer you own interpretation and analysis of existing studies. Each of you will then formulate hypotheses that can be tested with a survey-experiment, and suggest survey questions to test these hypotheses. The survey should also include experiments designed to test your hypotheses, where possible. We will design these experimental ‘treatments’ collaboratively in class and through individual work. We will collaboratively decide on the questions that should be asked on the survey and how the survey should be structured. Each student will then write a JP proposal that lays out the research question, provides a literature review of relevant scholarly studies, derive testable hypotheses from the literature review, and describe the research design, explaining how you will analyze the survey questions to test the hypotheses.
Examples of hypotheses might include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Young people are influenced by the views of their friends
- Young people learn their political ideas from their parents
- Young people are less likely to vote than older people because they are more alienated from the political system
- Young people’s political choices are influenced by the same factors that shape adults, including race, gender, where they live, and their social class
These hypotheses may be true – or false. You will get to find out.
I will provide examples of proposals and past Junior Papers, and work with you as a group and individually. Before you know it, you’ll be a survey researcher – and you might come to understand your own political passions.
Asher, H. 2012. Polling and the Public, 8th ed. Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, and pp. 238-241.
Clawson, R. and Z. Oxley. Public Opinion: Democratic Ideals, Democratic Practice, 2nd ed. (2013), Appendix: “Studying Public Opinion Empirically” (pp. 27-40).
Clawson, R. and Z. Oxley. Public Opinion: Democratic Ideals, Democratic Practice, 2nd ed. (2013), Ideological Innocence and Critiques (only pp 133-141)
Groenendyk, E. 2013. Competing Motives in the Partisan Mind: How Loyalty and Responsiveness Shape Party Identification and Democracy. Only pp. 1-11.
Bartels, L. “The Irrational Electorate.” Wilson Quarterly 2008, vol 32, no 4, pp 44-50.
Delli-Carpini, M. 2000. Gen.com: Youth, Civic Engagement, and the New Information Environment. Political Communication. 17: 341–349.
Verba, S. et al. 2012. The Unheavenly Chorus. Selections (age).
Burns, N. and D. Kinder. 2012. Categorical Politics: Gender, Race, and Public Opinion (chapter 7). In A. Berinsky, ed., New Directions in American Politics
Handouts from Prof. Mendelberg on: