Susquehanna University Political Review


The key determinants of political participation have been long argued between political scientists. This study seeks to examine the relationship between a level of belief in Freedom of Speech and political participation. After examination of previous works and studies regarding this topic, such as Brady, Verba and Schlozman’s Resource Model of Political Participation and Riker and Odershook’s A Theory of the Calculus of Voting three hypotheses arose; first, that the level of belief in Free Speech significantly factors into voters’ decision to participate politically, second, a person’s belief in Freedom of Speech positively correlates to the likelihood of participation in all measures of political participation, and third, a person’s limited belief in freedom of speech positively correlates to the unlikelihood to participate in all measures of political participation. These hypotheses were examined through a scale that measured levels of belief in Freedom of Speech. This scale was crafted specifically for the sake of this study and functioned as the independent variable. The dependent variable was split into four different categories: 2016 voting behavior, past participation, future participation, and future voting behavior. To test the hypotheses, an original survey was created and issued through Amazon’s MTurk service. After reviewing the results that were collected from the 516 participants, it was found that the level of belief in Freedom of Speech significantly affects the rate at which people participate in all of the four variables. However, my second and third hypotheses do not stand in every dependent variable with the exception of future voting behavior.