Just Another Norm in the Wall? Perceptions of the Social Norm of Voting in a Diverse Universe of Social Norms About Public Actions

15 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2016  

Achim Goerres

University of Duisburg-Essen - Institute of Political Science

Florian Rabuza

University of Duisburg-Essen - Institute of Political Science

Date Written: May 31, 2016

Abstract

Electoral Researchers know that the social norm of voting has a strong impact on voting participation. They also know a little about how the perception of this social norm varies across individuals (see Goerres 2010). What remains unclear, is the perception of the social norm of voting in comparison to other social norms that define public actions. In other words, is the social norm of voting just another social norm prescribing what to do in a certain public context? This paper uses vignette analysis with a social science student sample 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 not voting by other people. Those who belong to social groups constructed to be more deserving are also more accepted when they do not vote. Finally, respondents demonstrate ideas of moral karma by being willing to accept non-voting by those who have done good for others in other contexts.

Keywords: turnout, voting, social norm, social pressure, sanction, vignette, conjoint analysis

Suggested Citation

Goerres, Achim and Rabuza, Florian, Just Another Norm in the Wall? Perceptions of the Social Norm of Voting in a Diverse Universe of Social Norms About Public Actions (May 31, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2786964

Achim Goerres (Contact Author)

University of Duisburg-Essen - Institute of Political Science ( email )

Lotharstrasse 65
Duisburg, D-47057
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.achimgoerres.de

Florian Rabuza

University of Duisburg-Essen - Institute of Political Science ( email )

Lotharstrasse 65
Duisburg, D-47057
Germany

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