Does ideological polarisation mobilise citizens?

Kleiner, Tuuli-Marja GND

Does an increasing divide in ideological orientations influence citizens’ political behaviour? This study explores whether mass ideological polarisation stimulates individuals to become politically active in terms of poll attendance and non-elec-toral participation. In line with relative deprivation theory I argue that in an envi-ronment of ideological polarisation, individuals’ normative notions are threatened, increasing the probability that they will actively participate in the political decision-making process. Using the European Social Survey (2002–2014) and focusing on subnational regions, I conduct macro-level as well as multi-level analyses. Empirical results show that ideological polarisation indeed mobilises for non-electoral participation, while there is no such effect on voting. In the second step, I examine whether ideological extremism makes individuals more susceptible to environmental ideological polarisation. Findings show that members of the far right are more likely to become politically active when their social environment is divided over political ideology. In contrast, members of the far left are hardly motivated by rising polarisation regarding ideology.

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Kleiner, Tuuli-Marja: Does ideological polarisation mobilise citizens?. 2020.

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