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The Private Roots of Public Action

The Private Roots of Public Action

Gender, Equality, and Political Participation

Nancy Burns, Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba

ISBN 9780674029088

Publication date: 07/01/2009

Why, after several generations of suffrage and a revival of the women's movement in the late 1960s, do women continue to be less politically active than men? Why are they less likely to seek public office or join political organizations? The Private Roots of Public Action is the most comprehensive study of this puzzle of unequal participation.

The authors develop new methods to trace gender differences in political activity to the nonpolitical institutions of everyday life--the family, school, workplace, nonpolitical voluntary association, and church. Different experiences with these institutions produce differences in the resources, skills, and political orientations that facilitate participation--with a cumulative advantage for men. In addition, part of the solution to the puzzle of unequal participation lies in politics itself: where women hold visible public office, women citizens are more politically interested and active. The model that explains gender differences in participation is sufficiently general to apply to participatory disparities among other groups--among the young, the middle-aged, and the elderly or among Latinos, African-Americans and Anglo-Whites.

Praise

  • The Private Roots of Public Action is the most comprehensive examination of the similarities and differences in the political activity of women and men. The range of inquiry is enormous. Burns, Schlozman and Verba delve not only into political activity but also into the processes in the family, in the workplace, in places of worship, and in voluntary associations that promote and inhibit political involvement. This book goes beyond the literature in connecting to an enormous range of scholarship in political science, economics, and sociology. This is a fine piece of work.

    —John Mark Hansen, University of Chicago

Awards

  • 2002, Joint winner of the Victoria Schuck Award

Authors

  • Nancy Burns is Warren E. Miller Collegiate Professor and Director for the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan.
  • Kay Lehman Schlozman is J. Joseph Moakley Endowed Professor of Political Science at Boston College.
  • Sidney Verba (1932–2019) was Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, Emeritus, and Research Professor of Government at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • Harvard University Press

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