Document Type



Senior sociology major Jennifer Barnes has been awarded second prize in the 46th Annual Midwest Sociological Society Student Paper Competition. The Midwest Sociological Society (MSS), founded in 1936, is a professional organization of academic and applied sociologists as well as students of the discipline.

Jenna was also awarded first prize in the North Central Sociological Association’s Undergraduate Student Paper Competition last month. In “Student Political Advocacy: Professor, Parents, and Volunteer Service as Key Social Forces,” Perkins examined factors that influence college students’ decisions to become politically involved. Her findings based on survey research demonstrated that students were more likely to be politically active if they also were currently volunteering and if their parents and professors valued political involvement. The findings demonstrate that there is not necessarily a trade-off between community service and political activity among today’s college students.


Many scholars claim that the current generation of college students tend toward disengagement from political activism. While the explanations focus on macro-level processes, they can be used to make predictions about variations in individual level political engagement. To test these explanations I surveyed by email a simple random sample of four hundred students enrolled at a small Midwestern College in the fall of 2009. My objective was to answer the question: what distinguishes students that become engaged in political advocacy from the counterpart who do not? Analyzing my results through logistic regression generated three significant empirical findings. Students who are currently engaged in volunteer service were found to have an increased likelihood of engaging in political advocacy. Both parents and professors were found to be important sources to generate engagement. Lastly, student’s belief of the relative value of public policy versus community service is mediate by students who are currently engaged in volunteer service. The results confirm, at this small campus, professors, parents and students involved in civic engagement value political advocacy. I propose this implies that political advocacy has evolved since the 1960s and has taken a new form evolving within the current historical context.



© Copyright is owned by author of this document