Yaghi, A. (2009). Contacting the Government among College Students. Journal of Political Science Education, 5(2), 154-172.
The literature on political participation indicates that initiating contacts with the government is a vital form of civic engagement. Using this criterion to define participation, some researchers claim that students in general are apathetic about government and have poor efficacy about public affairs. The present study examines this assumption by exploring 18 factors that may influence college-student-initiated contact with federal, state, and local governments. A survey is administered to a random sample of 3500 students in five American states, namely Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. Findings suggest that students are neither apathetic nor lacking efficacy as 64% of them have initiated at least one contact in a 12-month period and many have even contacted more than once. Using multiple regression reveals that 11 factors influence students’ contacting, namely age, level at college, gender, needs, efficacy, political and civic affiliation, final recipient of services, goods and information, role of teachers, class discussions, campus environment, and availability of computers and the Internet. These findings and their implications are discussed in detail.