Civic and Political Engagement in a Time of Crisis: The Case of New York City

Project Date:
Feb 2021
Award Amount:

Co-funded by JPB Foundation

Political scientist John Mollenkopf will examine the extent to which the spread of COVID-19, the associated job losses, and the polarized political environment have affected political engagement (including voting), volunteering and organizational involvement, commitments to community and city, and assessments of political leadership among NYC registered voters. Mollenkopf hypothesizes that the relationships between illness, unemployment, and  political polarization, and civic and political outcomes are likely to operate both on the individual level—people who get sick, lose their job, or belong to a stigmatized racial or ethnic group might be expected to step back from civic or political life—and at the communal level—living in a community burdened by illness, income loss, and stigmatization might dampen civic and political engagement even if one remains healthy, employed, and alert to politics. However, these trends might operate in unexpected ways, increasing involvement among some burdened individuals or groups while privileged people or communities withdraw. For example, the Dominican neighborhood of Washington Heights had a high level of engagement with the 2020 Census despite having high levels of COVID-19 infection, while some of Manhattan’s highest income neighborhoods had low response rates


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