The Enforcement of Political Norms

Alvarez-Benjumea, Amalia and Vicente Valentim. The Enforcement of Political Norms. British Journal of Political Science, Forthcoming.

66 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2022 Last revised: 30 Nov 2023

Date Written: November 8, 2022

Abstract

Democracies generate norms prescribing what behaviors and preferences are deemed acceptable. What keeps these political norms in place? We expect these norms to be enforced by observers who disapprove of the norm-breaching behavior, and are thus willing to sanction and make it socially costly. We test this expectation with a survey in Spain, where respondents are shown pictures of individuals with different political views. Our focus is on norms against radical-right preferences, one of the most established political norms. In line with our expectation, individuals disapprove of radical-right preferences more than of other preferences. This makes them more likely to socially sanction those preferences, which they prefer to do in indirect ways that do not force interaction with the person breaching the norm. We also provide evidence on the individual-level predictors of norm enforcement. Our findings highlight the micro-level mechanisms by which social influence can affect the political behavior of democratic citizens.

Keywords: Political norms; Democratic norms; Social norms; Political Stigma; Radical right; Norm enforcement; Social sanctions; Peer punishment.

Suggested Citation

Alvarez-Benjumea, Amalia and Valentim, Vicente, The Enforcement of Political Norms (November 8, 2022). Alvarez-Benjumea, Amalia and Vicente Valentim. The Enforcement of Political Norms. British Journal of Political Science, Forthcoming., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4271028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4271028

Amalia Alvarez-Benjumea

IPP-CSIC ( email )

Serrano, 117
Madrid, 28006
Spain

Vicente Valentim (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Nuffield College ( email )

Oxford
United Kingdom

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