Why do only some people who support parties actually join them? Evidence from Britain

Poletti, Monica, Webb, Paul and Bale, Tim (2019) Why do only some people who support parties actually join them? Evidence from Britain. West European Politics, 42 (1). pp. 156-172. ISSN 0140-2382

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What makes people join a political party is one of the most commonly studied questions in research on party members. Nearly all this research, however, is based on talking to people who have actually joined parties. This article simultaneously analyses surveys of members of political parties in Britain and surveys of non-member supporters of those same parties. This uniquely enables us to model the decision to join parties. The results suggest that most of the elements that constitute the influential ‘General Incentives Model’ are significant. But it also reveals that, while party supporters imagine that selective benefits, social norms and opposing rival parties’ policies are key factors in members’ decisions to join a party, those who actually do so are more likely to say they are motivated by attachments to their party’s values, policies and leaders, as well as by an altruistic desire to support democracy more generally.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Research Centres and Groups: Sussex European Institute
Depositing User: Paul Webb
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2018 11:16
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 13:36
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/77392

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Project NameSussex Project NumberFunderFunder Ref
Party Members in the United KingdomG1772ESRC-ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCILPOLD1A6S - ES/M007537/1