Voting and Identity

Charles Pattie*, Ron Johnston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

2 Citations (Scopus)


This article traces that shift in academic understandings of British voting. Explanations of electoral alignment drew primarily on two different theoretical traditions: partisan identification and social cleavages. The origins of dealignment lie deep in the 1970s recession. Dealignment was a political earthquake waiting to happen. A striking generational shift in political attitudes had occurred among skilled manual workers. Political failure in the 1970s was one of the triggers of partisan dealignment. British electoral behaviour is now influenced much more by valence issues than by class and partisan identity. Identity and voting within the UK are both reported here. British voting studies have moved against the grain, leaving behind an interest in identity as other areas of politics embrace it. The cases of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) and nationalist voting notwithstanding, the new accepted wisdom in the field is that identity is now much less important than evaluations of government performance.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of British Politics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780191577062, 9780199230952
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2010


  • Black and minority ethnic
  • British electoral behaviour
  • British identity
  • British voting
  • Electoral alignment
  • Nationalist
  • Partisan dealignment


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