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Partisan Families


  • 36 tables
  • Page extent: 224 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.314 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521697187)

  • Also available in Hardback
  • Published July 2007

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$35.99 (P)

People decide about political parties by taking into account the preferences, values, expectations, and perceptions of their family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. As most persons live with others, members of their households influence each other's political decisions. How and what they think about politics and what they do are the outcomes of social processes. Analyzing data from extensive German and British household surveys, this book shows that wives and husbands influence each other; young adults influence their parents, especially their mothers. Wives and mothers sit at the center of households: their partisanship influences the partisanship of everyone else, and the others affect them.


1. The social logic of partisanship: a theoretical excursion; 2. Bounded partisanship in Germany and Britain; 3. A multivariate analysis of partisan support, preference, and constancy; 4. Bounded partisanship in intimate social units: husbands, wives, and domestic partners; 5. Bounded partisanship in intimate social units: German and British parents and children; 6. Partisan constancy and partisan families: turnout and vote choice in recent British elections.

Prize Winner

2008 Alexander L. George Award, International Society of Political Psychology


"This book will have unusually wide appeal to political scientists and sociologists. It connects the micro-social to the political in a unique and extremely sophisticated analysis. It will also appeal to scholars with interest in the British and German political contexts. In some ways this project represents a renewal of a political sociological tradition that has slipped out of the mainstream in recent decades, but it does so in a powerful and contemporary way. As someone working in related areas, I’m both impressed and daunted by the way these authors have raised the game."
-Geoffrey Evans, University of Oxford

"This wonderful book provides us with a window into the effects of family ties on politics. The British and German longitudinal surveys upon which it is based interviewed all the members of families selected randomly for inclusion, and re-interviewed them repeatedly, year after year, over a period of 11 years in Britain, 15 in Germany, providing a marvelous resource for political science and sociology. This book is the first to really tap the resource for the purpose of understanding ways in which family members influence each other over time. This influence is profound, calling into question (more comprehensively than any other data source has been able to) the very existence in any significant numbers of the atomized and anonymous individuals of rational choice theorizing. Two findings in particular will fundamentally affect our understanding of how political views are acquired, how partisanship is established, and how political change occurs. The first relates to the influence of the family group. Family members influence each other profoundly and not just in terms of spouses influencing each other and parents influencing children. Children also, especially when grown, can bring new ideas into the household which in due course are accepted by other household members. The second relates to the frequency of switching between political parties. In Britain and Germany this appears hardly to happen, seemingly because family members sustain each other’s political commitments. Rather, individuals switch between support of a party and support of no party. The book contains a wealth of additional details and many additional findings. It will be widely read by political analysts and commentators. It is a must read for all of those who study the formation and sustenance of political ideas and preferences."
-Mark Franklin, European University Institute

"Zuckerman, Dasović, and Fitzgerald provide an innovative and even startling analysis of the political dynamics within families. They make a compelling case for the centrality of the family to citizenship and political behavior, and they employ rich and underutilized data resources from Germany and Britain. To their credit, they also reach conclusions and offer arguments that will make many readers squirm. All of which is to say that their book is likely to make a profound impact in the comparative study of citizenship and political engagement."
-Robert Huckfeldt, University of California, Davis

"People vote in groups, and the family is the most important of them. This crucial insight by Paul Lazarsfeld and his colleagues of Columbia University dates back half a century, but has found little resonance in electoral research for most of this time. However, since a decade or so it is becoming more and more accepted that people's decisions of whether and how to vote are not just individual, but social activities. Citizens’ political behaviour depends not only on who they are, but also with whom they interact in their daily lives. This excellent study is a milestone in a growing body of research that has begun to take Lazarsfeld’s long-neglected understanding of political decision-making as an interpersonal process seriously. Applying state-of-the-art methods to some of the best survey datasets of the world, Professor Zuckerman and his colleagues confirm and refine Lazarsfeld’s ideas about the social embeddedness of individual political behaviour."
-Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, University of Duisberg-Essen

"Using state-of-the-art statistical techniques, the authors exploit the great potential of panel data, which cover not only the individual life course but also the diverse life trajectories that unfold within the family context. In their study, they show the profound influence that women have on their children's partisanship. Although this finding may come as no surprise to many of us, the author’s approach and findings represent a new and very important area of analysis in the field of political science."
-Gert G. Wagner, Chairman, German Council for Social and Economic Data

"Partisan Families is in many respects an impressive book. The authors exploit the great potential of panel data for examining the reciprocal influences within families with advances statistical methods."
-Oddbjorn Knutsen, University of Oslo, Perspectives on Politics

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