Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Rural Sociology


Many Americans feel that the right to vote is essential to ensuring the continuation of an American way of life and American democracy. The fundamental right in a democracy is first and foremost the right to choose. Voting is a choice, and more and more of the eligible voters choose not to cast a ballot. This idea of choice raises some important questions. First, are there any specific social indicators that can be shown to influence a persons choice? Second, is there something about the American political system that leads to the choice of abstaining from voting? The answers to these questions involve two competing models for the explanation of non-voting. A rational choice model is employed to determine how much voting is dependent upon individual choice. A second model, the mass society model, examines an individual's level of alienation to determine if the potential voter feels that he/she can influence government, and if they are a part of society as a whole. In a general sense the mass society model looks at a lack of choice. Data from the 1996 General Social Survey, conducted at the University of Michigan will be tested statistically to determine whether or not a relationship exists between voting in the 1992 presidential election and economic and personal considerations.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Political participation -- United States
Voting -- United States
Alienation (Social psychology)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University