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To What Extent Is Social Class An Important Factor When Considering Why People Vote The Way They Do?

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Introduction

To What Extent Is Social Class An Important Factor When Considering Why People Vote The Way They Do? At first glance, an attempt to explain voting behaviour is a near impossible task. The British vote is a secret ballot, in which voters have free choice where there is no compulsory reason making a voter vote for one candidate above another. Therefore it is the task of political scientists (Psephologists) to look for trends or patterns in voting behaviour. Therefore many different theories, or models, have been thought up to try and explain this mystery which is voting behaviour. One explanation of voting behaviour is the social structures model, which as an overview states that the main reason voters vote the way they do is because of social factors. The aim of this essay is to conclude whether one of these factors, social class, is the main factor when voters decide whom to vote for in a General Election. The social structures model, as stated above, is one explanation for voting behaviour. It states that most people vote according to their 'objective class interests'. Traditionally class was seen in terms of occupation. Those who were in manual jobs, i.e. the working class (blue collar workers), would vote for the Labour Party. Whereas, those in non-manual jobs (white collar workers), i.e. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore these workers now started to think about voting Conservative and so some of the Labour vote went to the Conservatives. This change in occupational structure can be counted as an influence of class dealignment. The arguments for class dealignment continue on and on as many political scientists try to back up the idea of class dealignment. If a full conclusion is to be reached as to the extent social class has on voting behaviour. The other social factors should be considered, these include regional differences, age, gender, religion and ethnicity. One other social factor effecting voting behaviour is 'regional differences'. In the early 1980's the north/south divide was often referred to. It was seen that the north of the country tended to vote Labour and the south of the country tended to vote Conservative. There were obviously reasons for this divide. The first being social class differences: Just as most recognise some relationship between occupational class and party support, most would also see some relationship between class and region. E.g. the south of the country contains more middle class homeowners than the north; this could explain many safe conservative seats in the south and many safe Labour seats in the north. Another fact effecting regional differences are cultural differences: This means that people living in an area, tend to follow the 'norm' of that area, so those living in a predominantly middle class area tend to adopt the lifestyle and ways of the middle class and so could be expected to vote conservative. ...read more.

Conclusion

Religion and ethnicity. Originally the Conservatives had a close link to the Church of England (The church of England was at one point nick named 'the Tory party at prayer'). This is mainly due to social class as the middle class traditionally were mainly Church of England. Therefore if social class affects the way voters vote, then religion would coincide with this. The final social factor that could be seen to effect voting behaviour is ethnicity. Race effects voting behaviour, as can be seen by the high black Labour vote, this cannot be fully explained, but it is still an obvious factor. But within this category of ethnicity the main factors that effect the voting are political geography and class, which have already been covered. So, as shown above, it can clearly be seen that there are many factors, which have an effect on voting behaviour besides social class. However, when attempting to fully answer the question; 'To what extent is social class an important factor when considering why people vote the way they do'. A full conclusion must be reached as to the full effect social class has on voting behaviour. Therefore I conclude that social class is a very large influence on voting behaviour and must be referred to when studying voting trends. However there are to many other factors which effect the way people vote. So to sum up, voting behaviour has a large influence on voting behaviour, but all other factors too must be accepted. Michael Edwards DC ...read more.

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