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Voting in British general elections no longer revolves around class. Discuss.

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Introduction

5th October 2002 Voting in British general elections no longer revolves around class. Discuss. Up until the mid-1970s, people thought of themselves as either working or middle class and so they voted according to their class. This is the traditional voting theory. The working class voted Labour while the middle class voted Conservative. Later on, however, due to the influence of television, people gained more knowledge of politics and so they made more informed choices on how to vote and who to vote for and were less likely to be loyal to the party of their class. I think that voting in British general elections does not revolve around class anymore and there are many factors that determine how people vote in general elections today. For instance, people today have more knowledge about the different parties they can vote for and so they can make informed decisions and not just vote depending on their class. Gender, age and social mobility can also determine which political parties people vote for. One piece of research that disagrees that voting no longer revolves around class is Jean Blondel's "Voters, parties and leaders", which is a study on the traditional voting theory. ...read more.

Middle

Yet it still seems to be stronger in Britain than in most other countries. Elsewhere race or religion may have more effect, but in Britain class is still the major factor behind the 'political cleavage'. Even in the October 1974 general election when class voting was less obvious than usual, more than half of the middle class votes were Conservative and more than half of the working class votes were Labour. Less than a quarter of the votes of each class went to the party of the 'opposite' class. In the new voting theory, the link between voting and class is much less, which is partly due to television. Between 1983 and 1987 a minority of working class people voted for Labour and the Conservative vote in the middle class had not risen above 60%. Crewe and Sarlvick argued that the class system was beginning to blur in Britain and that Partisan Dealignment was taking place as working class people were buying houses, the middle class were joining trade unions and people were paying lost of attention to policy. Three more sociologists, Himmelweit, Humphreys and Jaeger believed in a 'consumer model of voting', which means that people vote as if choosing products in a supermarket, and not depending on their class. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are many other factors which determine how people vote in British general elections today. For instance, women are more likely to do jobs that, while officially being working class, make them view themselves as middle class, such as routine office workers. Also women over thirty-five are more likely to vote Conservative. Age is another factor and this helped the Conservatives to win elections as middle class people, who usually vote Conservative, tend to live longer than working class people. Also young people are more likely to vote Labour while older people are more likely to vote Conservative. Furthermore, because of the class system, people who have moved up to the middle class change to Conservative while people who move down to the working class stay Conservative. In conclusion, I agree with the statement that voting in British general elections no longer revolves around class. Before the mid-1970s, traditional voting theory applied and so people voted according to their class. After that, though, the influence of television made people less loyal to the party of their social class. However, class still does play a small part in deciding who people vote for, it is just not as significant as it was before the mid-1970s. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Edward Hamer 13G -2- ...read more.

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