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Social Networks, Social Context, and Political Participation: Evidence from Uganda

28 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2017  

Nicholas Eubank

Vanderbilt Center for Study of Democratic Institutions

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania

Melina Platas

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi

Jonathan Rodden

Stanford University

Date Written: September 26, 2017

Abstract

Citizens often mirror the behavior of their peers, but our understanding of the dynamics of this influence is limited. For example, in what settings does the choice of one person to vote cascade through a community and lead to high voter turnout? Despite substantial theoretical inroads into this question, direct empirical tests remain scarce. Using data on the social networks of 15 villages in rural Uganda, this paper develops theoretical predictions about expected cross-village variation in turnout based on the network structure of each village, and demonstrates that these predictions are tightly linked with actual turnout in low-salience local elections with limited media attention, though not in high-salience presidential elections. These results provide the first direct empirical validation of “social context” theory, and introduce a finding of importance for future empirical network research: the salience of social networks may be conditional on the information environment.

Keywords: social networks, social context, turnout, political participation

JEL Classification: D72, D85, D83,

Suggested Citation

Eubank, Nicholas and Grossman, Guy and Platas, Melina and Rodden, Jonathan, Social Networks, Social Context, and Political Participation: Evidence from Uganda (September 26, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3043663

Nicholas Eubank (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt Center for Study of Democratic Institutions ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nickeubank.com

Guy Grossman

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
(215) 898-4209 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://guygrossman.com/

Melina Platas

New York University (NYU) - New York University Abu Dhabi ( email )

PO Box 129188
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

HOME PAGE: http://melinaplatas.com

Jonathan Rodden

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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