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Exploring capital, perceptions and political activity in Britain and beyond


Paper prepared for EPOP Conference 2022
[Download paper (PDF)]
Note: The paper covers the literature theory, hypotheses, and methods, with results to follow after completion of fieldwork.
Whether people feel like those they elect represent them can be an important factor in how they engage with legislatures. Indeed, one of the main ways that people engage with parliaments is by contacting their elected representatives, so whether or not they feel like they have common ground with parliamentarians is an important question. This is especially so in contexts where there is a prevailing view of a gap between the public and politicians, in which the latter are ‘out of touch’ with the former. Building on previous research about the characteristics that the public favour when electing representatives (Campbell and Cowley 2014; Campbell and Cowley 2018; Carnes and Lupu 2016; Vivyan et al. 2020) , this paper investigates whether candidates’ stocks of economic, social, and cultural capital (Bourdieu 2000) affect how descriptively representative and competent they are perceived to be by the electorate. Using a conjoint experiment fielded in India, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, the paper seeks to investigate whether the signals about their capital that politicians send, which act as indicators of their privilege, are a factor in how the public view them in a range of contexts. The paper is at the development stage so focuses on the theory and proposed methodology, including the survey instrument.
26th Aug 2022

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