Participation through the ballot box: Determinants of voting behaviour: Theories.

An overview of the points needed for revision on theories of why voting choices are made, ie through voting behaviour. Tried to seperate it into idea, result and recent trends (which can be used for evaluation), hope this helps!

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Key Terms: power, authority, politics, elitism, pluralism, electorate, participation, abstainers
Participation in Politics
Democracy: `The essence of participation'
Participation is a form of democracy ­ getting actively involved in politics for the benefit of
yourselves and the public. Democracy is people power: of, by and for the people.
There are 2 types of democracy:
o Direct democracy ­ eg ancient Athens the citizens themselves assemble to debate
and decide issues of public importance
o Indirect democracy ­ (aka representative democ) eg UK where the people elect
representatives to make decisions on their behalf.
Key points of a modern representative democ: existence of opposition, political equality
(everyone gets a vote), political freedoms, majority rule, free and fair elections and
lawmaking by elected gov.
UK is also considered a liberal democracy as they are very free eg in open gov, independent
judiciary, free media, civil rights. (need to know???)
Methods of political participation
Elections: most people use this method as participation in UK, unless they are abstainers.
May be used in general, local or devolved elections.
May use referendums: eg UK referendum on AV when voting about a single issue
May join pressure groups to voice opinions on single issues eg MIND
Direct action: eg used by protesters to gain media attention to force response.
may become members of a political party or show support of a party by actively supporting
by displaying who they favour eg wearing a badge, or may distribute leaflets.
Reasons for decline in participation
LAW: It is not compulsory to vote in the UK.
CONTENTMENT: there are no strong issues for people to be active about these days eg
womens rights have been won already.
INDIFFERENT: some may have no opinion or lack of interest.
POOR COMPETITION: if contending parties are poor it generates poor interest.
PARTY IDENTITY: differences between parties have narrowed.
BELIEF: some do not believe in the system.
TRUST: in gvmnt has declined eg expenses scandal
MEDIA COVERAGE: critical and cynical of politics.
ALIENATION: Some may not feel represented by any party so may not vote.
INCREASING AFFLUENCE: means people are concerned by lifestyle rather than breadline

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Factors affecting participation ­ Short term and Long Term
Social class
Remedies: How participation could be increased
LAW: make it a legal requirement
EDUCATION: increase political education in school system so people know how the system
works and increase understanding
CAMPAIGNS: make them state funded ­ makes them fairer and of concern as tax payers
money used
REDUCING ALIENATION: politicians to interact with public
REFORM: reduce number of safe seats
SYSTEM REFORM: Change to Proportional Representation
INCENTIVES: to vote eg £10…read more

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o Voting is not as vital as people have different priorities: in modern times issues are
not as serious and revolve more around lifestyle and leisure etc. Technology has
helped people to take action In different ways eg student protests, which involve
direct involvement rather than through hierarchal parties that ordinary people don't
have a great say in.
o People have different priorities: S.O.…read more


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