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"All politics is local": how local context explains radical right voting

Bolet, Diane (2020) "All politics is local": how local context explains radical right voting. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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People do not form their political preferences in a vacuum. They are deeply influenced by everyday experiences in the communities where they live and work—experiences that cannot neatly be categorised as ‘economic’ or ‘cultural’. These insights, this thesis argues, are crucial to understanding why people vote for radical right parties in Europe. The thesis examines these local contextual factors using panel regressions and multilevel analyses based on original and existing datasets of fine-grained census, electoral and survey data. It makes three main contributions. First, the thesis adds a spatial dimension to the study of radical right voting behaviour by showing how local sociotropic mechanisms— such as local labour market competition from immigrants with similar skill levels (paper 2) and the degradation of local socio-cultural spaces (paper 3)—affect people’s vote, alongside individual and national factors. Second, the thesis reconciles competing theories about the influence of economic and cultural factors on radical right support by pointing to the role of additional variables. Paper 1 shows how ‘subjective social status’ intermediates the relationship between economic distress and the rejection of cultural outgroups (a radical right catch-cry). Paper 3 explores how the decline of everyday opportunities for communal interaction—here, the closure of British pubs—fuels radical right support. Paper 2 looks at the economic effects of immigration at a more granular level, showing that it is neither immigration nor unemployment per se that boosts radical right support but rather localised competition between immigrants and natives with similar skillsets. This finding points to the third contribution of this thesis: it explains why middle-class voters are also drawn to the radical right. Overall, this investigation of local contextual factors adds a crucial new dimension to our understanding of what drives people to vote for radical right political parties.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2020 Diane Bolet
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Hobolt, Sara and Hix, Simon

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