Putting Voters in Their Place: Geography and Elections in Great Britain

By Ron Johnston; Charles Pattie | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Bringing Geography In

The core of this book's argument is that incorporating geography—as a synonym for 'place' not as an academic discipline—to the generally used models is central to understanding British voting patterns. Most voting behaviour models are based on a compositional approach, arguing that electors' choice of party or candidate is predominantly influenced by either their position within society or their personal evaluations of the contemporary political-economic situation: the sociological and responsive voter models discussed in the previous chapter exemplify this approach. Our argument here stresses a contextual approach,1 according to which people making voting decisions are influenced by elements of the milieux within which their daily lives are engaged. Some of those influences may not be directly linked to the intimate geography of their lives, such as the newspapers they choose to read and the radio and TV channels they tune in to, which are national in their coverage. But many are: the people they talk to about political issues, the organizations that they join which have political purposes, their responses to changes in the local economy—these and many more are place-based, so that where they live (their personal geographies) can have a strong impact, may even be the major influence, on their political and electoral choices.

The contextual approach is not presented as an alternative to the compositional one, however. The two are complementary, interacting in a great variety of ways. Thus, for example, we may argue that people occupying particular positions within society are likely to choose one party over another (working-class people preferring Labour, for example), but that tendency is stronger in some places than others because of the impact of local milieux on the development of class consciousness and its relationship to political ideologies. In this way, geography becomes part of the core models—sociological and responsive voter—that are the basis of most analyses of voting patterns.

The incorporation of geography within the basic models avoids treating it as what Agnew (1990, 18) terms 'epiphenomenal', whereby geographical variations in voting decisions are seen as the 'outcome of [deeper] national or global economic or political processes', which have not been directly

1 On the compositional and contextual approaches, see Thrift's (1983) pioneering essay.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Putting Voters in Their Place: Geography and Elections in Great Britain


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 336

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?