Date of Award


Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Ernest McGowen

Second Advisor

Kevin Cherry


This thesis examines how authoritarian structures found in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series affect the political thoughts and behaviors of its readers, particularly those who read them at young ages. By examining how Rowling depicts authoritarianism and its opposition in the books, I hypothesized that increased exposure would correlate to an increased impact on readers’ political opinions. To test this hypothesis, I created an original survey designed to measure levels of exposure and participation in the Harry Potter fandom as well as respondents’ political opinions. I asked respondents to provide different examples of authoritarianism and its opposition in the books and utilized a 5-item version of Bob Altemeyer’s Right Wing Authoritarian Scale to evaluate their authoritarian predisposition. I went to two different fan conventions, GalaxyCon in Richmond, Virginia, and MegaCon in Orlando, Florida, to administer an original survey and build my sample of self-identified Harry Potter fans. Along with the results from disseminating the survey on the internet, I collected 161 viable responses. Results show that Harry Potter fans who read Harry Potter at younger ages are more ideologically liberal and will identify more with the Democratic Party than fans who read them at older ages. The same is true for fans who read the books more than once. This survey was unable to conclude that those who read books at younger ages or more frequently have lower levels of authoritarian predisposition. I recommend further testing to clarify the issue.