Politics on Display

Off-year elections are this week, so our Review of the Week discusses the unique and enduring role yard signs play in local and national politics

Politics on display : yard signs and the politicization of social spaces

by Todd Makse, Scott L. Minkoff, and Anand E. Sokhey Oxford, 2019
215p bibl ibdex, 9780190926311 $99.00, 9780190926328 $27.95, 9780190926335

This is a book about campaign yard signs, those humble, mass-produced, inexpensive sheets of plastic wrapped around slim metal frames that sprout up in neighborhoods during the weeks preceding an election. More precisely, it’s about why people put them up and what those signs convey. Having scoured neighborhoods to tally every sign and conducted surveys and interviews to gauge people’s feelings about signs, the authors find that in some respects, the yard sign is a window to political inclinations. For example, in an era of increasingly pervasive partisan motivations, yards with signs for candidates from the same party outnumber two-party yards by a margin of 50 to 1. But signs have their own unique place, reflecting a form of political expression that cannot be avoided. Still, the authors find that most people put up signs to show pride in their chosen candidates and to advance their connection with like-minded neighbors rather than to retaliate against those with whom they disagree. Ultimately, the authors make a persuasive case that the yard sign is an important form of political expression and one that will endure.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
Reviewer: D. Niven, University of Cincinnati
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science – U.S. Politics
Choice Issue: Nov 2019