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Critically Examine The View That Voting Behaviour Is No Longer Class Based, But Is Determined By A Complex Mix Of Economic, Cultural And Ethnic Factors.

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Introduction

Critically Examine The View That Voting Behaviour Is No Longer Class Based, But Is Determined By A Complex Mix Of Economic, Cultural And Ethnic Factors. A wide repertoire of highly complex factors, inclusive of economic, cultural and ethnic elements, are often suggested in which sociologists believe have great influence determining voting behaviour, however traditionally, political commentators have identified social class as the most necessary aspect to consider; this is directly illustrated by what Pulzer famously claimed, 'Class is the basis of British politics, all else is embellishment and detail'. There is great evidence, indicating that in the past, class has been in-fact, the major issue for one to consider when discussing patterns of voting behaviour - for example; up until the late 1970s, there appeared to be statistical evidence of people voting for their traditional party - this was during a time where people were regarded as either being middle or working class, with the definition being solely based upon their occupations. The vast majority of the working class voted labour, with the majority of middle-classes voting conservative. The labour party had a close link with many trade unions; and that's why therefore, they were extremely popular amongst the working class. Over the last thirty years however, the occupational and industrial structure of Britain has witnessed largely fundamental changes, such as the significant shift from manual to non-manual work. ...read more.

Middle

- The Conservatives did not only ditch an unpopular prime minister but also indirectly escaped being held responsible for the weakness of the economy. Sanders (1992), argues that the Conservatives won because they convinced enough voters that 'The modest recovery in their personal economic circumstances that they had recently experienced was more likely to be sustained under a Conservative government than a Labour government.' (1992). This example, directly shows how members of the public vote in accordance with interests related to the economic system and that it is obviously a hugely important element to consider when studying habits of voting behaviour. The factor of age, has, in more recent years become one of many important suggestions of which to consider greatly in terms of voting behaviour. There has been recent statistical evidence to show that around 40% of first time voters vote labour, (Crewe, 1992). Moreover, there is also a notion that younger voters are more likely to vote 'radically', for example; for the smaller, more 'revolutionary' parties, such as the Green party or Socialist Labour party, - however, some would argue that younger, more politically apathetic voters tend to vote (if they vote at all), for the party their parents / friends vote for, or for whoever is already in power. ...read more.

Conclusion

Theories of dealignment and issue voting, argue that voter's party loyalties are much weaker today than in the past; suggesting that a much higher proportion of the electorate is susceptible to persuasion to change their votes. Voters are likely to be swayed by any bias in the media and by parties that are more successful in using the media to put across their message. For example, one of Labour's most recent election campaign's encouraged popular musicians to become involve in supporting the party, under the banner of Labours 'Cool Britannia'; perhaps in an attempt to encourage younger voters to vote Labour. It has also been claimed that extensive media coverage of opinion polls can actually influence the results of elections since people may switch their votes because of opinion poll predictions. There is not great evidence to support this theory, however Crewe, suggests an element of tactical voting may have led to the Conservative victory of 1992, and that some Liberal Democrat voters may have switched to the conservatives at the last moment fearing predictions of opinion polls of a labour victory. In reference to the initial question asked, I believe I have clearly illustrated how voting behaviour is in today's society not in any way purely class based. When studying voting patterns there an extensive variety of complex factors one should consider, which cover the broad mix of economic, cultural and ethnic issues. ...read more.

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