"Family background and social class are most influential in determining voting behaviour in Britain." Discuss.

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Essay:  “Family background and social class are most influential in determining voting behaviour in Britain.”  Discuss.

There are many different factors that affect voting behaviour in Britain, such as; media, political campaigns/broadcasts, opinion polls, tradition, social/family background, gender, age, ethnicity and even religion.  These factors can be put into two groups, volatile; things which are more immediate such as campaigns, policies, opinion polls etc. and stable; things that are long term such as family/social background, religion, upbringing etc.  People look to these factors, among other things, to explain why there is such a low turnout of voters in British General elections; in 1992 only 77.7% voted.  This dropped to71.5% in 1997 and down to an unbelievable 60% in 2001.  In this essay I am going to discuss these factors and determine which factors have more effect on voting behaviour, volatile or stable.

Family background and social class are two factors which definitely fall into the ‘stable’ category.  These are obviously stable as they are both long term pressures that occur in peoples lives from a very early age.  I would certainly agree that these were influential factors because this determines what kind of life the person has, whether they are rich or poor, working or upper class, what education they had etc.  In politics, these are all important as most people vote for the party which best represents their social class.  For example, if a person is well educated and has had no trouble finding work they may not appreciate something like a benefit system to help the unemployed.  For those who don’t have a job or don’t earn enough money, this is vital and this could therefore cause difference in the parties people vote for.  This type of voting is less popular now because the class system is less prevalent than it was in, say, the 70’s and earlier.

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 At this time, manual workers made up the working class and non manual made up the middle class.  It was typical for lower, working class to vote for labour and middle to back the conservatives.  Although parties are becoming more coherent on their policies now, these stereotypical roles have stuck with some parties, as Conservative’s are usually tagged as upper class and Labour/Liberal’s are more working class parties. There has, however, been a definite change as shown in the results of the general elections in 1992 and 1997.  In 1992, an average of 25% of upper and middle class ...

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