About this Research Topic
Early studies of voting behaviour demonstrated the central role of social identities and social networks in understanding the formation and maintenance of political preferences and behaviour. The rise of populist rhetoric and increasing political polarization has seen a revival of social psychological approaches to politics that seek to understand how some voters come to understand themselves as in competition with some other group in society, such as partisan outgroups, minorities, immigrants, or a socio-economic elite. Intergroup dynamics are central to understanding how groups structure electoral politics.
The goal of this Research Topic is to explore how various groups in society engage in the electoral process with a special focus on how the development and maintenance of one’s own social and political identity is shaped by perceptions and experiences of those outside the group. There are two key challenges facing the existing literature in this area. One is the need to understand how these dynamics play out among specific subgroups. Historically, subgroup analysis has been limited by data constraints in representative survey research because of sample size issues. Increasingly targeted data collections among relevant subgroups, large-scale cooperative data collection models, as well as newer forms of data collection that take advantage of big data provide unique opportunities to address this. A second challenge is that research often simplifies identities into categories. There is a need to understand heterogeneity within subgroups in terms of the nature and level of their identification with salient social groups, as well as research that engages with the potential fluidity of group boundaries.
We understand electoral politics broadly to include the factors that shape citizens’ political preferences and engagement in the electoral process, as well as work that focuses specifically on the link between candidates, representatives and constituencies. We encourage papers from a wide variety of perspectives, but we are particularly interested in studies that use original data from understudied groups of voters to explore group dynamics in electoral engagement. Submissions that focus on a single group, or compare across groups, are welcome. Each submission must engage directly with some component of intergroup dynamics (such as group formation or maintenance, intergroup competition, processes of discrimination or privilege, affinity effects, etc.). We welcome papers that provide novel theoretical insights as well as those which seek to reproduce or challenge existing empirical findings related to the Research Topic.
Keywords: Intergroup relations, Elections, Political psychology, Public opinion, Social identity
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