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A Decision Heuristic for Party Identification: New British and German Data and a New Understanding for a Classic Concept

Listed author(s):
  • Alan S. Zuckerman
  • Malcolm Brynin
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    The concept party identification lies at the heart of much research on political preferences and behavior in established democracies. Drawing on data obtained from the British Household Panel Survey (1991-99) and the German Socio-Economic Panel Survey (1984-1998), we offer a fresh approach to the concept. Party identification is a stance that people take towards the political parties. They apply a consistent rule -a decision heuristic -persistently returning to the same preference year after year or behaving haphazardly, moving with no clear pattern among the choices. Most take a definitively negative stance towards one of the parties and a positive stance towards the other major party. Of these, about half display behavior that reflects a psychological commitment and about half are as likely as not to pick that party when asked. For most people, party identification is neither a loyalty, as conceived by traditional understanding associated with the Michigan -nor a calculated choice -as offered by rational choice theory -but a way to situate oneself persistently in relation to the relatively distant objects of politics.

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    Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 268.

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    Length: 42 p.
    Date of creation: 2001
    Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp268
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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:66:y:1972:i:04:p:1203-1225_14 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Norpoth, Helmut, 1984. "The Making of a More Partisan Electorate in West Germany," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(01), pages 53-71, January.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:04:p:957-973_25 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Kotler-Berkowitz, Laurence A., 2001. "Religion and Voting Behaviour in Great Britain: A Reassessment," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(03), pages 523-554, July.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:73:y:1979:i:04:p:1071-1089_16 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Abramson, Paul R., 1992. "Of Time and Partisan Instability in Britain," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(03), pages 381-395, July.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:85:y:1991:i:02:p:557-568_17 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. David Sanders & Malcolm Brynin, 1999. "The Dynamics of Party Preference Change in Britain, 1991-1996," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 47(2), pages 219-239, 06.
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