The Politics of Diffusion: Public Policy in the American States

general article writing


Article Outline

1. Start with article citation.  It should be in APSA format, see below.

McKenzie, Brian D. 2008. “Reconsidering the Effects of Bonding Social Capital: A closer look at black civil society in America.” Political Behavior. 30:25-45.

2.  What is the research question posed by the author?  Another option is to find the “purpose” of the article? 

McKenzie (2008) explores the potential negative effects of social capital within the African American community.  Do African Americans who attend black churches have a commitment to the larger polity or are they only concerned about black advancement?

3.  What theoretical foundation is the author building on? 

McKenzie (2008) is working on the theory of social capital, which claims that communities where people are interconnected and know each other function better.  Civic associations, churches, the PTA, neighborhood groups, etc. all serve to develop a social capital in the community.  Social capital has two aspects to it, bridging and bonding.  Bridging social capital brings people of different demographic communities together while bonding social capital bonds people together and excludes outsiders.  

4.  Data and Methods…  What proof do authors use to make their arguments?  What data do they use?  What are the primary dependent and independent variables?

The author uses data from the National Black Politics Survey (1993-94).  The NBPS is a telephone survey of 1,206 black respondents.  McKenzie is trying to find whether or not membership in a black church or group inhibit or enhance the member’s likelihood that they will vote. 

5.  Results… What statistical methods do they use to find their results (if you don’t understand the method GOOGLE it and research what it does)? To the best of your ability describe the method used and what the authors found?

McKenzie uses PROBIT “estimates to generate predicted probability values for typical NBPS respondents” (36).   He finds that members of black organizations are more likely to vote than are non-members.  Black organization members are also more likely to engage in broad political activities when compared to non-members.  Black church membership, on the other hand, had no effect on voting or broad political participation. 

6.  Conclusion… So what?  Why should we care?

Social capital continues to be a popular topic for politicos and researchers alike.  The specter of the dark side of social capital, and bonding social capital, should not keep government policy or others from encouraging the public from civic engagement.  Because even in majority minority groups the benefit of group participation continues to bear out

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