- Voting is the main form of political participation in liberal democratic societies and the study of voting behaviour is a highly specialized sub-field within political science . The analysis of voting patterns invariably focuses on the determinants of why people vote as they do and how they arrive at the decisions they make. Sociologists tend to look to the socio-economic determinants of support for political parties, observing the correlations between class, occupation, ethnicity, sex, age and vote; political scientists have concentrated on the influence of political factors such as issues, political programmes, electoral campaigns, and the popularity of party leaders on voting behaviour. However, both disciplines share much the same terrain, and increasingly have tended to overlap in their analytical approaches (see, Elections and Voters: A Comparative Perspective, 1987).A number of different (but not mutually exclusive) approaches to the explanation of voting behaviour can be distinguished in the literature. Structural (or sociological) approaches concentrate on the relationship between individual and social structure, place the vote in a social context, and examine the effects on voting of such variables as social class, language, nationalism, religion, and rural-urban contrasts. Ecological (or aggregate statistical) approaches relate voting patterns to the characteristic features of a geographical area (ward, constituency, state, or whatever). Social psychological approaches relate voting decisions to the voter's psychological predispositions or attitudes, for example his or her party identification, attitudes to candidates, and such like. Finally, rational-choice approaches attempt to explain voting behaviour as the outcome of a series of instrumental cost-benefit calculations by the individual, assessing the relative desirability of specific electoral outcomes in terms of the issues addressed and policies espoused by the different parties or candidates. Each of these broad approaches tends to be associated with different research techniques and each makes different assumptions about what motivates political behaviour.In Britain there has been a long-running debate about whether the influence of social class on voting behaviour has declined (the so-called ‘class dealignment thesis’), and about the extent to which this process is associated with the dilution of loyalty to the two major parties (the Conservative Party and the Labour Party) which have dominated the political system since the Second World War (the ‘partisan dealignment thesis’). Proponents of these arguments (see, for example,, Decade of Dealignment, 1983) argue that both absolute class voting (the overall proportion of the electorate who vote for their ‘natural’ class party) and relative class voting (the relative strength of the parties in different classes) have declined continuously since the late 1960s and that this is connected to the decline in the share of the Conservative and Labour Party votes. They attribute this dealignment to a number of underlying social changes: changes in the occupational structure, the decline in the size of the manual working class, social mobility, and growth of cross-class families-all of which are said to undermine the socio-economic cohesiveness of class. As a result of class fragmentation, issues have become a more important influence on how electors vote, and voters evaluate the political parties as self-interested individuals rather than on a collective or class basis.In a similar vein, proponents of the thesis of consumption-sector cleavages argue that increasing fragmentation has reduced the political distinctiveness of social classes, and that as a result of the growing importance of consumption, differences between those who are dependent on public rather than private consumption of goods and services (like housing, transport, education, and health) are the source of new political alignments. These sectoral distinctions have replaced class as the most salient structural cleavage, both in terms of debate between the political parties and in terms of voting behaviour. The private consumption of goods and services increases the propensity to vote Conservative while those dependent on public provision vote Labour. As with the theory of class and partisan dealignment, that of consumption sectoral cleavage emphasizes the growing importance of the media in shaping individual interests, and the particularly damaging effects of these changes on working-class support for Labour.However, opponents of this view (such as, Understanding Political Change, 1991) argue that class dealignment is a consequence of partisan dealignment rather than a cause. While absolute levels of class voting have declined, ‘trendless fluctuation’ in relative class voting suggests that social classes still retain their political distinctiveness. Indeed, class remains the major influence on voting behaviour; and, furthermore, consumption cleavages such as housing tenure (which are not especially novel) are merely correlates of class, and do not have important independent effects on voting behaviour. Calling for what they call an ‘interactionist’ approach to the analysis of the relationship between social structure, party performance, and vote, Heath and his colleagues argue that Labour's electoral failure in the 1980s was largely the result of across-the-board political failures (rather than underlying social changes), principally the policy failures of the 1964-70 Labour governments, the increasing number of third party (Liberal) candidates standing in working-class constituencies, the failure of the Labour Party to devise a credible economic policy, and its internal disunity. Class origins and class attitudes still influence how people vote-although class organizations like the Labour Party have not always been successful in mobilizing this potential in the political sphere.In recent years, studies of voting behaviour have become a methodological minefield, as advances in techniques for the analysis of large-scale data-sets have fuelled existing controversies between different theories and models of voting behaviour. Concluding their admirable and exhaustive review of this literature, Jeff Manza, Michael Hunt, and Clem Brooks observe that the relationship between class and voting in the capitalist democracies of Western Europe and North America shows no evidence of being subject to a universal process of class dealignment, and that, at this juncture, ‘only one conclusion is firm: in no democratic capitalist country has vote been entirely independent of class in a national election’ (‘Class Voting in Capitalist Democracies since World War Two: Dealignment, Realignment, or Trendless Fluctuation?’, Annual Review of Sociology, 1995). On the debates in the United States in particular see, Controversies in Voting Behaviour (1993).
Dictionary of sociology. 2013.
Look at other dictionaries:
voting behaviour — The study of voting behaviour developed in the mid twentieth century and was based on the new developments in survey research. Much has been written about the relationships between voting behaviour and social class, education, religion and… … Glossary of UK Government and Politics
voting behaviour — rinkėjų elgsena statusas T sritis Politika apibrėžtis Rinkėjų elgesys per rinkimus, jų pasirinkimas dalyvauti rinkimuose/referendume ar ne, kandidatų, partijos, referendumo nuostatos pasirinkimo motyvai ir priežastys.Ją analizuoja Mičigano… … Politikos mokslų enciklopedinis žodynas
issue voting — The idea that voters make their decision about whom to support on the basis of their assessment of the issue or policy stances of the political parties. In other words, it is a calculated decision based on a rational choice. For issue voting… … Glossary of UK Government and Politics
Calculus of voting — refers to any mathematical model which predicts voting behaviour by an electorate, including such features as participation rate. A calculus of voting represents an hypothesized decision making process.These models are used in political science… … Wikipedia
History of voting in New Zealand — Voting in New Zealand was introduced after colonisation by British settlers.New Zealand Constitution ActThe first national elections in New Zealand took place in 1853, the year after the British government passed the New Zealand Constitution Act… … Wikipedia
political behaviour — The term refers to any form of (individual or collective) involvement in the political process, or any activity which has political consequences in relation to government and policy. This broad definition embraces both legitimate forms of… … Dictionary of sociology
ЭЛЕКТОРАЛЬНОЕ ПОВЕДЕНИЕ — (voting behaviour) процессы принятия решений и социальные факторы, влияющие на модели голосования. Изучение электорального поведения подразделяется на четыре основных вида: избирательный округ, в национальном масштабе, межнациональное и… … Большой толковый социологический словарь
Электоральное поведение — (voting behaviour), модель предпочтения избирателей, определяемая полит., социальными и психолог, факторами. Точно установить, какое именно сочетание факторов образует избирательную модель групп или отд. лиц невозможно, но ряд др. моделей… … Народы и культуры
political science — political scientist. a social science dealing with political institutions and with the principles and conduct of government. [1770 80] * * * Academic discipline concerned with the empirical study of government and politics. Political scientists… … Universalium
election — /i lek sheuhn/, n. 1. the selection of a person or persons for office by vote. 2. a public vote upon a proposition submitted. 3. the act of electing. 4. Theol. the choice by God of individuals, as for a particular work or for favor or salvation.… … Universalium