Friday, December 12, 2008

Civic Engagement

Getting young people engaged in the political process has long been a focus of scholars, advocates, and of course politicians and political parties who desperately seek their precious votes.

But do celebrities help in getting people involved?

One study suggests yes, they do. Celebrity endorsements of political engagement can make a difference, though one that is probably short-lived, by attracting young people who often identify with those celebrities. These endorsements led to higher self-efficacy and lower complacency among young respondents as part of a study in the 2004 campaign. The end result was more engagement.

That's the good news, though it being short-lived is probably the bad news. The theory is that once we get people used to participating or voting, they'll do it again and again. Addiction theory at its best, but the data suggest otherwise.

And again I say it -- damn those data. I need a bumper sticker with that line, or maybe a t-shirt.

It'll be interesting to see the 2008 version of this study, what with Barack Obama's attraction to younger voters. I suspect in 2008 celebrity endorsements of engagement were almost redundant to Obama's candidacy and had no real effect. Again, we'll have to let the data tell us the tale.

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