Date of Award

Summer 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Mona Danner

Committee Member

Elizabeth Monk-Turner

Committee Member

Ingrid Whitaker

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 R47 2009


Democracy depends on the active participation of at least some citizens. Many researchers argue that the number of people who participate in civic and political life has declined since the 1970's; however, others argue that new methods of participation are not being considered. New ways of thinking about citizenship, more individualized ways of participating in politics, and the intersection of political expression and the free market have created ways for individuals to engage in political and civic life that are not measured by existing conceptualizations of political participation. Political consumerism is one way to conceptualize at least some of the previously unmeasured methods of participation in civic and political life.

In order to begin to explore the ways in which individuals participate in civic and political life, this study measures political consumerism in addition to political engagement and compares predictors of each form of participation. The research in this thesis was conducted with a theoretical framework that situates political decision making within a consumerist rubric. Data was collected through an anonymous, voluntary survey administered to students at Old Dominion University. Several theoretical variables are tested with respect to both political consumerism and political engagement, in addition to demographic variables.

Bivariate and multivariate statistical analyses were used to explore the relationships between theoretical variables, demographic variables and political consumerism and engagement. The findings of this study indicate that political consumerism and political engagement do not share predictors, and there is thus much work to be done in order to understand changing civic and political participation.


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