Thou Shalt Vote: A European-Wide Analysis of the Social Norm of Voting (Du sollst wuhlen! Eine international vergleichende Analyse der Wahlnorm in Europa)
Posted: 25 Jan 2008 Last revised: 18 Jan 2009
Date Written: November 16, 2008
This paper starts from the assumption that voting participation is an important pillar of functioning modern democracies. One of the explanations for high turnout is that voting is considered to be a social norm, i.e. an action that is socially prescribed and non-compliance sanctioned. This paper assesses the determinants of the individual perception of that voting norm with regression and path models and the European Social Survey 2002/3 for 21 European democracies.
There are four theoretical perspectives that can be distilled from the literature: (1) social integration: the extent and quality with which an individual is integrated into given social contexts; (2) social trust: the general willingness to cooperate with other individuals; (3) the support of the social system to which a norm belongs and (4) the perception of the degree of compliance and the of the quality of a social norm in an individual's context.
The empirical assessment reveals that a combination of social integration, support of the social system and the perception of the degree of compliance and of the quality of the norm explains the data best. We also find additional causal paths of indicators of social integration through system support on the individual voting norm. The paper represents an improvement on the existing literature through its more complex causal modelling and the contextualisation of individual attitudes.
Note: Downloadable document is in German.
Keywords: social norms, voting participation, path models, European Social Survey
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