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Thatcher’s Children, Blair’s Babies, Political Socialization and Trickle-down Value Change: An Age, Period and Cohort Analysis

Abstract

To what extent are new generations ‘Thatcherite’? Using British Social Attitudes data for 1985–2012 and applying age-period-cohort analysis and generalized additive models, this article investigates whether Thatcher’s Children hold more right-authoritarian political values compared to other political generations. The study further examines the extent to which the generation that came of age under New Labour – Blair’s Babies – shares these values. The findings for generation effects indicate that the later political generation is even more right-authoritarian, including with respect to attitudes to redistribution, welfare and crime. This view is supported by evidence of cohort effects. These results show that the legacy of Thatcherism for left-right and libertarian-authoritarian values is its long-term shaping of public opinion through political socialization.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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University of Sheffield, Department of Politics (email: m.grasso@sheffield.ac.uk); University of Sheffield, School of Law (email: s.farrall@sheffield.ac.uk); University of Sheffield, School of Law (email: emily.gray@sheffield.ac.uk); Sciences Po, Paris, Centre d’Études Européennes (email: colin.hay@sciencespo.fr); University of Southampton, Department of Politics and International Relations (email: w.j.jennings@soton.ac.uk). The authors would like to thank Stephen Fisher, Charles Pattie and James Tilley as well as three anonymous reviewers and Rob Johns for comments and suggestions. We would also like to acknowledge the support of the UK Economic and Social Research Council (Award no: ES/K006398/1). The usual disclaimers apply. Data replication sets are available at http://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/BJPolS.

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