Does Participation really matter?


Edmund Burke- If people didn't vote then 'evil would triumph'.

Participation does matter-

  • In a democracy, it is people who hold MPs to account.
  • If people are participating, politically informed then they will see through governmental decpetion. 
  • If no opportunities to participate, then people will be alienated and excluded.
  • If the moderate majority participate, it will stop the rise of extremism. 
  • Participation counters appathy, alienation and ignorance. It allows the democratic process to work.
  • No vote, no say. Votes express peoples views.
  • People have fought and died for the right to vote, should be highly valued.
  • Voting is a symbol of good citizenship, our duty to vote. 

Participation doesn't matter-

  • People have different priorities.
  • Register their views through different forms of action, such as protests and campaigns. 
  • People only participate in high numbers at times of crisis. Do not participate suggests they are relaxed. Sign of contentment- happathy.
  • Little can do to make people participate- people are not interested. 

Theories of voting behaviour-

Psephologists developed various models to explain changes.

  • Party Identification Theory- Where people have developed political loyalties, they have a physiological attachment to their parties. Referred to as partisan alignment. In a period of Partisan dealignment- identification 45% in 1964 ad 13% in 2001.
  • Sociological Theory- People's social characteristics influence their participation. E.g Social class, Class Alignment, ethnicity, gender, region and religion. As class mobility has increased, class dealignment increases. 
  • Rational Choice Theory- In 1980s emphasis shifted from psychological and sociological approaches to rational judgement. Based on self-interest. 'It's the economy, stupid'- Bill Clinton. Due to this, parties focus on image, leader, and media. 
  • Dominant Ideology Theory- Argued individual choices influenced by the media. Period of 'spin'. Newspapers tend to back Conservative party. The absence of party loyalty, such as class, means people are more likely to be swayed by what they see, hear and read. 

Main determinants of voting behaviour-

  • Age
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Media (election campaign)
  • Party policy
  • Manifesto
  • Ethnicity
  • Location
  • Family or peer group influence 
  • Events
  • Upbringing, and education
  • Political Polls
  • Party Leaders
  • Party Loyalty

Long term

  • Socioeconomic statusIt can change. Class is


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