How Far Do Social Factors Impact Voting Behaviour? Year 12 Essay

1156 words - 5 pages

Social factors do have an impact on voting behaviour, such as class and regionalism. However, there are social factors which do not have an impact, such as age, gender and background. However some of these factors can be closely linked to class which clearly does have an impact on voting behaviour so it is clear that social factors do have an impact. There are other factors which play into voting behaviour too, which are not social factors, such as valance, policies and party image.
Social factors do have an impact on voting behaviour, such as class and regionalism. Class can have a big impact on voting behaviour, as the upper and middle class tend to vote for the conservative party, whereas the working class tend to vote for the Labour Party. For example, in the 2017 general election just under 50% of Labour voters fell under the DE (unemployed) class specification, while just below 50% of the Conservative voters fell under the AB (middle/upper) class specification. This clearly has a huge impact on voting behaviour, as in most cases, there is a clear correlation between the class that one falls under and the party that they vote for. However, there have been cases where people have started to move away from voting for a party due to their class. In the 2010 General Election the Conservatives gained from all groups with the exception of the lowest class DE which stayed Labour. ABC1 (grouped together) had a 39% vote for the Conservatives while Labour had 27%. In the C2 class 37% voted Conservative compared to 29% for Labour, and in the DE group 31% voted Conservative and 40% Labour. This shows that although there is some correlation and that class can have an impact on voting behaviour, in recent years, that has become less apparent and people are starting to move away from this. However, this doesn’t apply in most cases and you still have classes voting for the two major parties based on their class. Another social factor which has an impact on voting behaviour, is regionalism. There is a consistent north/ south divide in voting behaviour in the UK. The north tends to favour Labour and the south favours the Conservative Party. In 2001, the southern part of England voted 56.3% for the Conservative Party whilst the north of England, Scotland and Wales voted 82.4% in favour of the Labour Party. This pattern may be linked to the industrial past of the UK when heavy industry and links to trade unions were concentrated in Central Scotland, the North of England and Wales. However, this could be argued that although people do vote based on where they live, it actually links to class. For example, the borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the richest with the average gross annual household income being £101,600, with many upper class families living in this borough. The region in which you live in is almost directly linked to class, so although class can have an impact on voting behaviour, it is more or less tied into class. Although people could argue that the region in which you live in is very closely linked to class, there are divides within regions, and therefore they alone do have an impact on voting behaviour.
Although there are social factors that do greatly impact voting behaviour, with these come social factors which do not. For example age and background, and gender. G.B Shaw once wrote “If you are not a socialist by the time you are 25 you have no heart. If you are not a conservative by the time you are 35 you have no head.” There is a clear link between age and the party that you vote for, although the reasons as to why are unclear. For example those under the age of 35 tend to vote for the Labour party, with 66% of 18-19 year olds voting Labour, with the Conservative vote increasing with age with 69% of 70+ voting for the Conservative party following the 2017 election. Traditionally, Labour was seen to be the more idealistic party, promoting and egalitarian state, which hugely appealed to the younger voters. There is also a link between ethnicity and voting behaviour. The Labour party has tended to benefit from the ethnic minority vote, especially the Afro-Caribbean vote. This may be because, in the past, Labour policies have seemed more sympathetic towards ethnic minorities. However, from 2009-2012 14% of black Africans were in persistent poverty, which could indicate that they fall into the working class or lower class, which showed that it did have an impact on voting behaviour. Gender can also have an impact on voting behaviour with younger women being 16.5% more supportive of Labour than young men, and young men were 14.5% more supportive of the Conservatives than young women. Conversely, older women were 12% more supportive of the Conservatives than older men, but older men were more than twice as likely to vote for UKIP than older women. This shows that gender is a social factor that doesn’t have an impact on voting behaviour.
However, there other factors, such as valance, economic policy, party image and issue voting which also has an impact on voting behaviour. During the campaign, running up to the 2015 general election, the Labour party were seen as unable to lead the country, with Ed Miliband constantly being spoken about, as he was unable to eat a bacon roll. As a result of this, the Labour party only managed to secure 30% of the seats. This is not a social factor, but does have some impact on voting behaviour, as poor press can have a negative impact on the image of a party, as well as the party leader, causing people to not vote for a particular party. Another factor which can influence voting behaviour is valance. Leading up to the 2017 election, many people saw Jeremy Corbyn as an unfit leader, and did not have faith in him to lead the country, if Labour had won. The newspapers constantly attacked him, much like they did with Miliband, and was constantly criticised and critiques for not wearing a poppy, or for looking scruffy. This has a huge impact on voting behaviour, as although he had done better than expected, he still did not win the election, but gained wide support from the youth, to whom he appealed to. The Labour party managed to gain 40% of the seats.
Although there are factors which do suggest that social factors do not have an impact on voting behaviour, most of them can be closely linked to class, and therefore do have an impact on the way that somebody votes. There are also other factors which are not social factors which also determine how one votes, but it is clear to make the judgement that social factors do have an impact on voting behaviour and how one votes.

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