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How important is class in voting behaviour?

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Introduction

How important is class in voting behaviour? One of the main factors for voting behaviour is class but how important is it. Conventionally. Class is seen in the terms of occupation. Those who are in manual jobs are placed in the 'Working Class' and are expected to vote fro the labour party. Whilst those in non-manual jobs are to be found in the 'Middle Class' and are expected to vote for the Conservatives. The majority of people belong to the working class sector and therefore ideally if class was the most important factor then Labour would when every single election. During 1945 and 1970 elections, of course this did not happen labour was not elected at every election. As they were not elected either many working class people did not bother to vote or the was some cross-class voting, some manual workers voting for the conservatives. There is a theory called 'Embourgeoisement' which means that with rising pay levels and better living conditions people are now starting to consider themselves as middle class when they were really working and then they would vote for the new ideal party the conservatives and the labour party would lose out. ...read more.

Middle

I can see this from what Heath said in 1991 "Distinguished according to their degree of economic security, their authority in the workplace, their prospects of economic advancement and their sources as well as their level of income." In other words, these days there are factors such as Income and wealth, background and education, which determine Class, and so class is becoming less important in voting behaviour because people are changing class and classing themselves deciding what class they are. Some argue that labours decline of the vote been exacerbated by the process of class dealignment. Voting can also be affected by party dealignment when a party changes for example their role in education etc and then their following changes and classes that support them may change. In 1983, Crewe said that he found by a survey that only 83% of manual workers actually voted for the labour party, the party could only rely on the shrinking traditional working class, and it was losing support in the new working class, those who belonged to the old working class were predominantly people who lived in Scotland and the north of England those who lived in council houses or worked in the public sector. ...read more.

Conclusion

Labours had most of the manual votes from the period of 1945-92 while the conservatives' votes slowly decreased across the time. Dunleavy and Husbands (1985) argue that the significance of manual and non-manual divisions is being replaced by new sectoral cleavages based on public-private splits. It is argued that these cleavages have resulted in the development of new political alignments, largely irrespective of whether employees are in manual or non-manual occupations. Dunleavy and Husband argue that new alignments have been developing which relate party choice to patens of consumption. These new alignments, they argue, cut across the manual/non-manual class alignments. In conclusion although there has been a degree of class dealignment class in voting behaviour is still important. Meanwhile there is a relationship between class and region for example in the south of England it contains a higher proportion of middle class homeowners than the north, this could partly account for the conservative predominance in the north and the labour stronghold in the south. But class is not the most important factor in voting behaviour as geography still is the number 1 factor. Lloyd Williams 12CF ...read more.

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