Share this

Political Giving: Making Sense of Individual Campaign Contributions, Bertram N. Johnson

Reviewed by Michael Schwam-Baird



Why do individuals contribute to political campaigns? The question bears asking since, in spite of the considerable attention paid to organized interests and their political action committees (PACs), individual contributions make up the largest share of federal campaign receipts. In particular, Bertram N. Johnson’s new book asks why so many individuals give in amounts too small for them to expect any material return. Johnson outlines a typology of potential incentives for giving that includes material, solidary, purposive, and expressive incentives. Though political scientists have written extensively about material and solidary reasons for giving, the author argues that purposive and expressive incentives have been overlooked. Purposive incentives originate from the in­trinsic satisfaction of contributing to promote a desired social or political outcome; expressive incentives are based on the utility gained from articulating particular values. The author generates a number of hypotheses based on these incentives including, in the case of purposive incentives, that individuals with strong political preferences will be more likely to contribute.

Before testing his hypotheses directly, Johnson devotes a chapter to the interesting history of individual political donors in American politics.

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

North Korea and the West

The Debate over North Korea


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS