Getting on the radar screen: Homeschooling litigation as agenda setting, 1972-2007

Steven A. Boutcher, Anne Kathrin Kronberg, Regina E. Werum

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Since the legalization of homeschooling in 1972, litigation by homeschooling adversaries has shaped the legal frameworks regulating its practice. Adjudicating between complementary theoretical claims, we examine whether homeschooling litigation trends-specifically the ability of either side to set the agenda by getting on court dockets-reflect concerns over contentious educational practices and policies or broader cultural and political dynamics. We employ a unique longitudinal dataset on precedent-setting state and federal cases (1972-2007). Analyses show that litigation trends remained largely unaffected by changing educational dynamics, except via racialized status competition dynamics. Instead, litigation trends primarily reflect political and cultural factors, including the liberalization of public attitudes on socially contentious issues. Most importantly, mobilization and countermobilization dynamics have driven the ability of homeschooling rivals to use the courts for agenda-setting purposes. Our results highlight how political and cultural contexts shape movements' ability to set policy agendas through the courts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-180
Number of pages22
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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