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Brady, Verba, and Schlozman: Beyond SES

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Brady, Verba, and Schlozman. 1994. Beyond SES: A resource model of political participation. APSR: 829-838.


Previous studies have controlled for socioeconomic status variables (income, education, etc) to predict political participation, but they haven't made clear why we should expect these variables to matter. Brady et al turn it around: Why don't people participate in politics? There are three answers: They can't, they don't want to, or nobody asked them to. In other words,

Using these independent variables, the authors show why people vote, make donations, or contribute their time to a cause:



  1. Resources vary in their relationship to SES. For example: income correlates well with SES, but free time doesn't (the poorest have more free time, but there's little correlation otherwise).
  2. They attempt to control for "political interest." It does appear to matter, but it doesn't supplant the effects of civic skills and income.
  3. The resource model works well for overall participation, but this summary measure (of participation) masks significant differences among specific political acts--differences which may be related to resources. There are three ways to participate: voting, donating, and volunteering.
    • Voting: Political interest matters more than resources. But civic skills seems to overlap with interest.
    • Donating: Strongly correlated with income; weak correlations otherwise.
    • Volunteering: Political interest matters. Civic skills matter more than civic interest. Income is irrelevant.

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Brady, Henry (author)Verba, Sidney (author)Schlozman, Kay Lehman (author)American PoliticsVotingParticipationSocioeconomic StatusTurnout

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