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Voting behaviour Empirical questions What explains vote choices? Socialisation/attachment Social structure (class, religion etc.) Electoral change (dealignment,

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Presentation on theme: "Voting behaviour Empirical questions What explains vote choices? Socialisation/attachment Social structure (class, religion etc.) Electoral change (dealignment,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Voting behaviour Empirical questions What explains vote choices? Socialisation/attachment Social structure (class, religion etc.) Electoral change (dealignment, realignment) Electoral system (strategic voting) Evaluations (issues, leaders, ideology, economy etc.) What explains voting/non-voting ? Decline in turnout? Paradox of turnout Varying importance of elections First/second-order; closeness; polarization

2 Voting Collective decision-making procedure Deliberation Unanimity Voting Majority Plurality Proportionality Democratic meaning of elections Manifestation of general will (Rousseau) Elite replacement (Schumpeter)

3 Historical roots of voting studies Extension of franchise (early 20 th century) Predictions/expectations about working class parties Data limitations Electoral geography Census data vs. electoral data George Gallup ( ) Founder of American Institute of Public Opinion (1935) Predicting correctly Roosevelt victory in 1936 Literary digest poll (2 million respondents) predicting Landon win Gallup poll (5,000 respondents, random sample) predicting FDR win FDR landslide, establishing Gallup, and the use of scientific polling in general, as a quasi-institution in US electoral politics

4 Studying the electoral process Columbia voting studies Lazarsfeld & Berelson The Peoples Choice (1948) Voting (1954) We were not interested in how people voted but in why they voted as they did. Preference formation Six-wave panel design Studying influence of campaign and media the social psychology of the voting decision Stable preferences Little knowledge, interest, few direct short-term effects Mutually reinforcing social networks vs. cross-pressures

5 Party identification The Michigan model Campbell, Converse, Miller and Stokes, The American Voter (1960) Socio-psychological model Party identification Long-term stable psychological affinity with either party Analogy with religion (party believers) Emotional/affective attachment, developed during socialisation Picking up values and attitudes from parents, peers Explanatory value Stability of voting patterns within individuals over time Issue alignment (partisan cues for perceptions and choice) Potentially tautological

6 Political sociology Social context Beliefs, values, attitudes Political behaviour (vote choice) Group membership Collective experience, attitude formation Party mobilisation Social cleavages Dominant dividing lines in society

7 Social cleavages and voting Seymour Martin Lipset & Stein Rokkan Party Systems and Voter Alignments (1967) Historical macro-sociological approach History of nation-building, industrialisation, democratisation Varying traditional divisions across European societies Center-periphery Class Religion Language Frozen party systems (1920s-1960s) Stable patterns of party competition around salient primary cleavages Class-voting (Britain, Germany), religious voting (France, Netherlands)


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