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Spelar adressen någon roll?: En studie av områdeseffekter på medborgares politiska deltagande
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to describe and explain (individual level) public political participation, with particular focus on the significance of the local, geographical context. Studies of political participation have traditionally focused on individual level explanations. Here, however, the question of the significance of place, is also raised i.e. does place have an effect on the probability of the individual to take political action? Such causal relationships are known as contextual (or neighbourhood) effects. These occur when contextual factors affect individual behaviour so that it varies systematically between different contexts, even after controlling for individual level predictors. Although empirical research has been lacking, there is a widespread assumption that place of residence can have both positive and negative effects on outcomes at the level of the individual. This is the case especially with regard to urban residential segregation, which is believed to cause self-generating, negative effects on the political engagement of citizens. My line of argument is that contextual effects cannot be taken for granted; rather they must be tested empirically in a systematic way, using individual level data and appropriate techniques.

Political participation is operationalised in terms of: voting in local elections, contacting local officials, and participating in manifestations. The local, geographical context is operationalised in two ways; as Swedish municipalities and as city districts. The latter is done using case studies of two Swedish cities; Umeå, a medium-sized town with moderate socioeconomic segregation, and Göteborg, a large city with extensive polarisation. Survey data is used and analysed by means of multilevel analysis, a technique developed especially for hierarchical data and contextual analysis of individual level outcomes.

The results do not provide strong support for the hypothesis of contextual effects on public political participation. There are, in several cases, strong, bivariate relationships between socioeconomic composition and political participation at the aggregate level. However, this is not confirmed in analyses of individual level data. The variation between individuals residing in different places is significant in only one case; when the context is operationalised as municipalities and the dependent variable is participation in manifestations. This variation cannot, however, be explained neither by individual level SES/political engagement nor by socioeconomic composition at the municipal level. An analysis of crosslevel interactions shows that employed persons residing in affluent districts of Göteborg have a higher probability to vote and to participate in contacting than employed persons living in poor neighbourhoods. Similarly, individuals with an immigrant background living in affluent districts in Göteborg are more likely to vote than those living in poor areas. These results give some support for the hypothesis of contextual effects on political participation. However, as the number of observations in this particular analysis is very small, the results are not robust and, consequently, must be interpreted with caution.

In order to identify relevant individual level predictors, the SES and CV-models are applied. The results indicate that socioeconomic variables such as employment status and education are important predictors of voting. However, when it comes to contacting officials and participating in manifestations, socio-political resources such as political engagement and organisational membership are better as predictors of political participation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Statsvetenskap , 2007. , 277 p.
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 3
Keyword [en]
political participation, contextual effects, neighbourhood effects, multilevel analysis, socioeconomic resources, political engagement, sub-national level, Sweden
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1326ISBN: 978-91-7264-355-0OAI: diva2:140654
Public defence
2007-09-21, Hörsal G, Humanisthuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2007-08-31 Created: 2007-08-31 Last updated: 2010-02-26Bibliographically approved

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