Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2019 - , University of Essex

The broken link? Examining young people's partisan socialisation within the home

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Day:Tue 2 Jul
  • Nicole Martin, University of Manchester

The past three decades have seen a dramatic decline in the proportion of people with a party identity. This decline primarily results from new cohorts who have lower levels of party identity than their predecessors. Once a cohort enters the electorate, levels of identification remain stable. These findings point to the importance of early experiences in shaping voters’ partisanship. This paper examines young people’s weakening attachments to parties, asking whether changes in socialisation can explain partisan dealignment. We use data on 11-15 year olds in the British Household Panel Study/Understanding Society (a household panel study spanning 26 years) to test demand-side explanations of dealignment among young people. Has increased female education and employment changed the socialisation of young people, due to different socialisation pressures in both workplaces? How did increased enrolment in higher education over that time period affect the expectations young people had for their future? Does declining sibship size also reduce political socialisation within the home? And is there a ratchet effect, where less partisan previous generations further fail to indoctrinate their children into a party identity?