What Knowledge is of Most Worth?
Most research on political knowledge focuses on declarative knowledge or specific facts about politics. By contrast, this chapter posits the importance of operative knowledge action, which is comprised of: (1) the intention to achieve one or more goals that define a given civic task; (2) a process for achieving these goals; and (3) heuristics for selecting actions down a goal path. It is suggested that operative knowledge for civic action lies at the heart of many political activities and should be assessed whenever researchers attempt to infer the knowledge individuals have of the process for participating in the political life of their society. This chapter develops an argument for how operative knowledge is acquired, the contexts in which it is deployed, the mental models that initiate its use, and provides examples of heuristic elements of this knowledge that lead to civic behaviors. Finally, it proposes the concept of civic intelligence as a general rubric under which to consider different kinds of political knowledge.
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