Sowing the Seeds for Grassroots Growth: How Recruitment Appeals Impact the Calculus of Citizen Engagement

Doctoral Dissertation


In this dissertation I develop a theoretical framework for understanding why citizens do or do not engage in politics and civic society and how organizations, through their appeals, impact these decisions. Specifically, I broaden the “calculus of voting” and borrow from John Zaller’s (1992) theory of how people answer survey questions. Using this framework, I generate a number of hypotheses about what types of people should participate when solicited, as well as which appeals work best in particular contexts and for whom. In the three empirical chapters, I test these hypotheses using survey and field experiments. I conclude with recommendations for future scholarship in this area, noting its practical importance for increasing participation rates generally and decreasing the participatory gap, which are two ailments of American Democracy today.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-07102013-123005

Author Lauren Marie Keane
Advisor David Nickerson
Contributor David Campbell, Committee Member
Contributor David Nickerson, Committee Chair
Contributor Christina Wolbrecht, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2013-06-24

Submission Date 2013-07-10
  • United States of America

  • mobilization

  • civic engagement

  • experimental methods

  • political engagement

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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