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Political participation of older people in Europe.

Goerres, Achim (2007) Political participation of older people in Europe. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis answers two questions: to what extent do older people in Europe differ from younger people in terms of their participation in politics, and why. It tests an age-centred model of political participation that is theoretically supported by prior knowledge about political-psychological thinking processes and the social behaviour of older people. The empirical innovation lies in a combination of quantitative survey analysis and the qualitative analysis of interviews with older people. The evidence comes from 21 European countries that were in the European Social Survey 2002/3, from British and West German national surveys of the post-war era and from interviews with older English protesters. The thesis focuses on voting participation, party choice and non-institutionalised political participation outside of organisations. Older people participate differently from younger people in politics because they have a different endowment of resources and motivation as well as of opportunities and exposure to mobilisation. This fact is due to a mixture of cohort effects, which are linked to the specific generation that the individuals are members of, and life cycle effects, which are grounded on varying social circumstances across the life cycle. Furthermore, older people benefit from a larger pool of political experience and possess a greater commitment to comply with social norms of political behaviour. Their political preferences are primarily shaped by their generational membership, whereas life cycle variations in political preferences are minor. There is also exploratory evidence that older people suffer from social stereotypes about their role in participatory politics. They internalise societal images about older people, one of which is that they should be passive in some forms of participation, such as protest activities. Thus, their participation level is lower than that of younger people even when all other age-related effects are held constant.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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