Political Activists in America
The Identity Construction Model of Political Participation
By (author) Nathan Teske
Publication date:16 January 2009
Length of book:190 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
Through vivid portrayals of political activists, Political Activists in America offers a fresh analysis of why people become involved in politics. Based on interviews with environmental, social justice, and pro-life activists, the book argues, contrary to both popular opinion and the main approaches of political science, that active involvement in politics can be deeply fulfilling to the individual. The identity construction approach is the core of the book's argument and shows how activists value political involvement for themselves.
The book argues against approaches that see politics as an inherently costly or unpleasant activity. In contrast, the identity construction approach sees political activism as enabling activists to become people whom they would otherwise have been unable to become. The construction of identity for all activists is both about morality and about what one wants for oneself, and hence it illustrates shortcomings in approaches that divide motivations into either the "self-interested" or the "altruistic."