Kay Schlozman

Kay Lehman Schlozman is the J.Joseph Moakley Endowed Professor of Political Science at Boston College and co-author of, most recently, Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism is American Politics and The Private Roots of Public Action: Gender, Equality, and Political Participation.

Recent Articles

Did Working Women Kill the PTA?

M y mom was known in the family as "POC"--short for "Pillar of Community." Her estimable talents were in constant demand for every community effort, from leading the townwide campaign to register every eligible voter to serving on the school board. Like Mom, I do my share; but unlike Mom, I do only my share, and then always as a soldier, never as a general. What explains the difference--that she is a member of Robert Putnam's "long civic generation" and I am a boomer? Or that Mom's MBA was last used in the service of paid work before my older brother came along more than half a century ago, and I have a full-time job? Putnam's excellent book Bowling Alone has been criticized for failing to confront what is alleged to be the real source of the decline in civic engagement: the march of women into the work force. According to this critique, Putnam was too afraid of the wrath of feminists to admit the politically incorrect truth, that the fatal blow to civic life occurred when women left...

The Big Tilt

It's not just how many take part in politics; it's who. Inequality is more pronounced in America than in other democracies, and it's growing.

R ecent debate about American society has focused attention on declining civic participation and the consequent fraying of the social fabric. Are declining bowling league memberships evidence of the erosion of civil society? Or are bowling leagues just being replaced by youth soccer leagues? Lost in the discussion is the fact that what matters is not only the amount of civic activity but its distribution, not just how many people take part but who they are. In discussions of declining civic engagement, one widely noted trend is a decline in electoral turnout: From a recent high of 63 percent in the 1960 election, voting in presidential elections diminished gradually, until in 1996 it dipped to its lowest level since 1924-49 percent. What is less frequently mentioned, however, is that the falloff in turnout has been uneven across educational groups. Between 1968 and 1992, turnout rates among those who never finished high school declined by about a third; among college graduates turnout...