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Political Research Exchange - PRX

Composition of Individual Action Repertoire: Voting – And, or – Protesting?

Contentious Politics
Political Participation
Social Movements
Electoral Behaviour
Political Activism
Katerina Vrablikova
University of Bath
Katerina Vrablikova
University of Bath
Lukáš Linek
Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic

The composition of individual action repertoire differs. A lot of people only vote and do not get involved in any other non-electoral activities; a smaller portion of citizens combine voting with other political activities; a few bypass electoral channels and only protest; still, a lot of people remain passive and do not get involved in any forms of political participation. Since elections and social movements are two major forms of political conflict in democratic systems, this study examines how people combine voting and protesting in their personal “toolbox” of political repertoire. Unlike vast majority of available studies that compare voters to non-voters and protestors to non-protestors, we suggest that different sets of factors lead people to use various combinations of voting and protest. The main question is: What determines the setup of individual action repertoire? To answer this question, we draw on classical participation theories (resources, self-expressive activist values, and networks) and classical collective behavior explanations (which emphasize social strains, grievances, alienation, frustration and radicalism) to develop three explanatory models for each participatory type and account for differences among them: sole-voters, sole-protestors, and combined activists compared to politically passive. Since protestors and their sub-categories are rare cases, the analysis uses European Social Survey data from 24 democracies to increase the number of cases to allow the analysis. The results show that objective (underprivileged position within labor force) as well as subjective (perceived discrimination) function as effective obstacles of sole-voting. This suggests that people at the bottom of socio-economic hierarchy are effectively excluded from electoral politics. Moreover, the finding that not being a citizen increases the likelihood of sole-protesting suggests that there is a group that has the willingness to participate but cannot extent their activities to voting as they are not citizens. People, who combine both activities (protesting and voting) are even more distant to politically passive in a way that socio-economically excluded groups and people lacking self-expressive activist values are less likely to be combined activists. In contrast, sole-protestors do not differ from politically passive in terms of socio-economic factors, the political activation of sole-protestors lies in their attitudes: higher level of engagement citizenship norms, higher politicization, higher political discontent and stronger political opinions than politically passive citizens.
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