by Rod Hague and Martin Harrop

Chapter Eight: Political Participation

Chapter Notes

  • Political participation: activity by individuals formally intended to influence who governs or the decisions taken by those who do. Conventional and unconventional participation. Is monitoring and surveillance by citizens enough, with behavioural engagement only when needed? (Compare with civic culture, chapter 6).
  • Gladiators, spectators and apathetics. Few gladiators. Participation skewed to well-educated, middle-class, middle-aged white men. Political resources and political interest as explanations. Political exclusion.
  • Women more likely to vote but still considerable under-representation at higher levels. Fewer women in feeder occupations, lack of confidence and gendered institutions as explanations. The global effort to improve female representation in legislatures. Reserved seats, party quotas and legislative quotas. No cure-all. Increasing female representation in the executive, including traditionally male ministries.
  • Social movements (new politics) as collective challenges to established authorities. Contrasts with parties and interest groups. Modern communication facilitates national and trans-national co-ordination e.g. anti-Iraq war protests in 2003. Local and single-issue orientation often limits national significance. Movement activists often resemble conventional participants and migrate to established politics.
  • Public opinion: what the public thinks or the considered judgement of the community on a common issue? The limits of its impact, especially on detail. Public lacks knowledge and can evade trade-offs. Measuring public opinion: opinion polls, sample surveys, citizens’ juries and focus groups.
  • Mobilized participation in authoritarian regimes: high in quantity but low in quality. Decay of regimented participation in China since the Cultural Revolution. Emergence of party-sponsored groups.
  • Patron-client networks: clientelism as a form of manipulated participation in authoritarian regimes. Clientelism defined: both a response to insecurity and an affirmation of inequality.

Figures and tables


Multiple choice questions


Essays and term papers

  1. To what extent are quotas necessary and desirable as a way of increasing women's representation in politics?
  2. Do social movements provide a 'people's challenge' to traditional politics?

Hague & Harrop, 2013 edn, ch. 8.

P. Norris, Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism
R. Dalton, Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies
R. Dalton and M. Kuechler, Challenging the Political Order
M. Krook, Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide
S. Tarrow, Power in Movement: Social Movements and Contentious Politics
A. Hadenius, Democracy's Victory and Crisis
L. Milbrath and M. Goel, Political Participation: How and Why Do People Get
Involved in Politics?
G. Parry, G. Moyser and N. Day, Political Participation and Democracy in Britain
S. Verba, K. Scholzman and H. Brady, Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in
American Politics
R. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community



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