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Educated, urbanized – and narrow-minded? A comparative analysis of political ideology in local parties


Geser, H (2009). Educated, urbanized – and narrow-minded? A comparative analysis of political ideology in local parties. Sociology in Switzerland: Politik und Parteien im Wandel 18, University of Zurich.

Abstract

This paper aims to explore the strength and causal determinants of ideological thinking within political
parties. The degree of “ideologization” includes two dimensions: “horizontal couplings”, as they are manifested
in intercorrelations between different beliefs or opinions; and “vertical couplings” as they appear
in the degree to which specific beliefs are related to more abstract concepts like “left” and “right”
The results presented show shockingly high trends of ideologization at least on the left-center section of
the spectrum, especially in the vertical dimension. Urbanization stands out as a major causal factor: On
both sides of the spectrum, ideological constraints are significantly higher in larger than in smaller communities,
and more pronounced in suburban settings than in villages far from the next city. Only in rather
small communities, it is found that ideologization correlates positively with the educational level and the
modern occupational background of party members, with the exposition of the local sections to the programs
of supralocal mother parties, and with the number of other local parties with which they have to
compete.
In communities of given site, ideological thinking is more pronounced when parties possess a small
share of political power (or none at all). Finally, there is evidence that ideological constraints in party
policy has increased since the late eighties of the last century, and that it may increase further because
younger age cohorts are more prone to clustering issue positions tightly and for relating them closely to
abstract notions of “left” and “right”.
In contradiction to most conventional wisdom, we may tentatively conclude that political thinking is more
“rational” (or at least more flexible and pragmatic) at the peripheries than in the more central spheres of
modern societies.

Abstract

This paper aims to explore the strength and causal determinants of ideological thinking within political
parties. The degree of “ideologization” includes two dimensions: “horizontal couplings”, as they are manifested
in intercorrelations between different beliefs or opinions; and “vertical couplings” as they appear
in the degree to which specific beliefs are related to more abstract concepts like “left” and “right”
The results presented show shockingly high trends of ideologization at least on the left-center section of
the spectrum, especially in the vertical dimension. Urbanization stands out as a major causal factor: On
both sides of the spectrum, ideological constraints are significantly higher in larger than in smaller communities,
and more pronounced in suburban settings than in villages far from the next city. Only in rather
small communities, it is found that ideologization correlates positively with the educational level and the
modern occupational background of party members, with the exposition of the local sections to the programs
of supralocal mother parties, and with the number of other local parties with which they have to
compete.
In communities of given site, ideological thinking is more pronounced when parties possess a small
share of political power (or none at all). Finally, there is evidence that ideological constraints in party
policy has increased since the late eighties of the last century, and that it may increase further because
younger age cohorts are more prone to clustering issue positions tightly and for relating them closely to
abstract notions of “left” and “right”.
In contradiction to most conventional wisdom, we may tentatively conclude that political thinking is more
“rational” (or at least more flexible and pragmatic) at the peripheries than in the more central spheres of
modern societies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Sociology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:24 Jun 2011 07:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:56
Series Name:Sociology in Switzerland: Politik und Parteien im Wandel
Number of Pages:39
Official URL:http://socio.ch/par/ges_18.html

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