The article by Manza, Hout and Brook on Class Voting in Capitalist Democracies since World War II, concludes that voting in most capitalistic democracies occurs along class lines. The article also highlights the recent increased democratic participation of the poor class in politics.
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There are two arguments regarding class participation in voting. One argument proposes that political participation along class lines is on a decline due to the emergence of new forms of social division other than class (Manza, Hout, & Brook, 1995, p.137).
The improved economic status of the working class coupled with the rise of new occupations influence class voting. In addition, the argument holds that voter education and awareness help change their perceptions contributing to voting that is independent of class affiliations.
The other argument holds the contrary opinion that class voting is on the rise arguing that the emergence of new social divisions has led to class de-alignment emphasizing that class voting is still significant in modern politics.
The political participation of the poor is still significant as the only way the economically impoverished citizens can solve their problems. Political participation of the poor usually occurs through support for political parties and participation in demonstrations in support of policies that promote their welfare (Rosenstone, & Hansen, 1993, p.151).
The poor also participate in politics through informal community associations in an effort to solve the problems affecting their neighborhood. The political parties and non-governmental organizations remain important vehicles through which the poor strive to solve their problems. The level of participation of the poor in politics characterized by class voting is correlated to education and income levels.
The participation of the rich and influential people in politics is however, limited as compared to the participation of the poor. Influential people are usually well educated and have enough resources as compared to the poor.
They, therefore, do not resort to active participation in politics through demonstrations or political parties. Instead, they solve their problems through a direct approach to the government and do not rely or engage in collective solving of social problems or self-help groups.
The article established that political participation of individuals correlates with social class affiliations. The workers’ unions influence the workers to vote for leftist political parties while the middle class would vote for the rightist political parties to protect their interests.
This trend defines the political outcomes of the voting exercise where one class, the rich middle class, aligns itself to the right while the poor working class aligns itself towards the leftist political ideologies. Non-voting is also considered a political outcome mainly attributed to restrictive voter registration rules and decline in competition among the political parties.
The arguments, which contend that class voting is irrelevant are less common because recent voting patterns suggest that voting occurs along class lines. The voting patterns also suggest that political parties of the left attract both the middle class and the working class segments of the population.
In addition, the global economic changes have also contributed to the increased class voting and class realignments. The class differences increase political participation of especially the poor working class to address the problems affecting them.
The expanding gap between the rich and the poor also contributes to the increased trend of class voting and realignment. Most proponents of the declining trend of class voting argue that voters vote with regard to issue and ideologies of a political party. However, voting majorly occurs along class lines rather on political ideologies.
Manza, J., Hout, M., & Brook, C. (1995). Class Voting in Capitalist Democracies since World War II: Dealignment, Realignment, or Trendless Fluctuation? Annual Review of Sociology. 21,137-62.
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Rosenstone, J., & Hansen, J. (1993). Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America. New York: Macmillan.