Tuesday Seminar – 12 October

The Effectiveness of Symbolic Group Appeals

Ruth Dassonneville (Université de Montréal)

Citizens’ socio-demographic characteristics shape their political preferences, resulting in systematic differences in how social groups vote. These group-differences emerge when there are clear associations between social groups and specific parties. Recent work has shown that one way in which parties can create such linkages and strengthen the association between membership of a social group and electoral support is by means of symbolic group appeals. However, what we know about such appeals is mostly limited to the role of class-based appeals. By means of a vignette experiment that was embedded in a survey of British voters, I bring insights in the generalizability of symbolic group appeals for other types of societal groups. The results show that symbolic group appeals are not only effective when appealing to the working class, but that parties can also use symbolic group appeals to effectively polarize groups along the rural/urban and education cleavages. In contrast, symbolic group appeals based on age do not appear to increase support among the targeted group. These findings imply that symbolic group appeals can be effective beyond a focus on the well-established class cleavage. More work is needed, however, to understand the scope conditions of the effectiveness of symbolic group appeals.

Contact Semih Çakır if you would like to participate in the seminar.

This content has been updated on 19 October 2021 at 22 h 48 min.