Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

Gender and the transmission of partisanship within the household

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Day:Tue 2 Jul
  • Rosalind Shorrocks, University of Manchester

Households are a key site of political socialisation, with children often retaining the party identification of their parents. This paper uses household panel data from the British Household Panel Study and Understanding Society in Britain to answer previously under-researched questions about how gender mediates this process.  We assess whether 1) mothers and fathers are more likely to transmit their party identification at different rates; and 2) girls and boys pick up their parents’ party identification at different rates. Previous research into these questions has failed to accurately conceptualise and measure the complexity present in both household structure and household composition. In terms of household structure, 20% of children live in single-parent households (rising to 40% for teenage children), but prior studies have either excluded these households or failed to differentiate them from dual-parent households. This has implications for findings with respect to the role of gender because the vast majority of single-parent households are headed by women. Secondly, in terms of household composition, previous studies have considered the role of mothers and fathers independently of each other rather than examining the impact of particular household configurations with respect to party identification. We are able to address these issues using the household structure of the BHPS and Understanding Society. We show that the role of mothers in transmitting party identification is much smaller than that found in previous studies. We also measure over-time changes in the relationship between gender and the transmission of party identification, to assess whether the difference between ours and previous findings is related to change over time in the relationship or is a methodological artefact.