Just Another Norm in the Wall? Perceptions of the Social Norm of Voting in a Diverse Universe of Social Norms About Public Actions
28 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2016 Last revised: 31 Mar 2017
Date Written: May 31, 2016
The social norm of voting has a strong impact on voting participation at the individual level. However, little is known about how individuals perceive the voting norm relative to other social norms that define public actions, and under which circumstances individuals accept the voting abstention of others. This article uses vignette analysis on a convenience sample from Germany to explore (1) which characteristics of a number of public actions (among which voting) and (2) which characteristics of the individuals confronted with that public action determine the perceptions of its underlying social norm among the general public. In the minds of the respondents, the voting norm forms an integral part of a wider universe of norms about public behaviour. In that universe, the voting norm is defined by its political relevance and lack of institutional enforcement relative to other norms. Moreover, respondents resort to categories of deservingness when accepting or not accepting voting abstention by other people. Finally, respondents reveal the principle of moral karma through their willingness to accept non-voting by those who have behaved altruistically in other contexts.
Keywords: turnout, voting, social norm, social pressure, sanction, vignette, conjoint analysis
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