People Who Know People: Vertical Social Ties and Campaign Participation in Unequal Contexts
38 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2015 Last revised: 23 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 11, 2016
How do social ties affect elections in developing, unequal democracies? While studies of social influence typically focus on horizontal ties to family and peer discussants, social connections to politicians and organizers are understudied. I argue that during campaigns in developing countries, vertical ties exacerbate inequality and political stratification. Using 2012 AmericasBarometer data with matched treatment and control groups, and a panel study of Brazil’s 2010 election, I find that citizens with vertical ties are more likely to vote and to mobilize others, but also to receive clientelistic offers. The distribution of vertical ties reflects and in turn exacerbates inequality. Vertical ties accrue to socially advantaged citizens, and insulate them from the generally demobilizing effects of societal inequality on political participation.
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