An Investigation into Political Engagement on College Campuses Open Access

Dunn, Amina (Spring 2018)

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In recent history, as college campuses have become more diverse, they have also been sites of numerous political demonstrations. Literature suggests that students are more politically active than non-students of the same age because they are in spaces where they are able to connect with like-minded people, but further individual attributes can affect their political behavior. This study utilizes a mixed-methods approach through quantitative data, from the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (N = 47,893), and qualitative data (21 in-depth interviews) to understand how identity intersects with political behavior on college campuses both on the individual and group levels. I focus on the identity statuses of race, gender, sexual orientation, and political ideology and investigate student involvement in identity-based student organizations to understand how students engage in both political action and political discussion. I find that a student’s social network is the best indicator of their political behavior, but overall a student’s need to feel understood as a knowledgeable individual heavily influences how they choose to interact with others in regard to politics.

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                                           1

Literature Review                                                                                                                  2

Methods                                                                                                                                 9

i.                   Quantitative Methodology                                                                          9

ii.                 Qualitative Methodology                                                                               14

Results                                                                                                                                   19

i.                   Quantitative Data                                                                                           19

ii.                 Qualitative Data                                                                                                   26

Discussion                                                                                                                              41

Works Cited                                                                                                                          46

Appendix I                                                                                                                             49

Appendix II                                                                                                                           54

Appendix III                                                                                                                          56

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