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The topic of this dissertation is the relationship between social stratification and inequality in electoral participation in European countries, examined from a life course perspective. This participatory inequality across social strata is considered as particularly worrisome by social scientists, due to a potential vicious circle arising between socio-economic and political inequalities. The goal of this dissertation is to contribute to the exploration of said vicious circle, focusing on theoretical perspectives originating in sociology, at the intersection of social stratification and life course research: unemployment scarring, precarious work, relative cohort size, and age-class intersections. Broadly, I posit how the impact of individual social stratification on turnout is moderated by contextual-level dynamics, such as the unemployment rate, the size of the birth cohort, and the ideological convergence in the party system. I test the hypotheses by fitting logistic and multilevel regressions to data from the European Social Survey, combined with data from the EUROSTAT, Fraser Institute’s World Project, and the International Database of the US Census for Chapters 1-3. In Chapter 4, I integrate data from British Social Attitudes, the British Election Study, and the Manifesto Research on Political Participation in the case study of Great Britain. The key findings are the following: unemployment scarring decreases electoral participation by 10%, but its impact is amplified (up to 17%) by lower contextual unemployment, and nullified by higher levels of the latter. Precarious work decreases probability of voting in 21 European countries, on top of traditional predictors such as social class and education. In contrast with the Easterlin Hypothesis, larger Relative Cohort Size increases electoral participation, especially in upper social strata. Ideological convergence in Great Britain depresses the turnout of the working class and the self-employed, and this is driven mainly by younger cohorts within those classes. In sum, integrating the social stratification and life course approaches sheds new light on how inequality in electoral participation is jointly affected by individual and contextual characteristics. In future work, this joint approach may orient research on additional socio-political outcomes, towards a broader research programme on the Political Sociology of Inequalities.

Social Stratification, Life Course, and Political Inequality



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Settore SPS/11 - Sociologia dei Fenomeni Politici
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