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‘We Don't Do God’? Religion and Party Choice in Britain


This article shows that religion has been consistently important in predicting voters’ party choices in Britain over time. The relationship between religion and party preference is not primarily due to the social make-up of different religious groups, nor to ideological differences between religious groups, whether in terms of social conservatism, economic leftism or national identity. Instead, particular denominations are associated with parties that represented those denominational groups in the early twentieth century when social cleavages were ‘frozen’ within the system. The main mechanism underpinning these divisions is parental transmission of party affiliations within denominations. These findings have important implications for how we understand both the persistence of social cleavages and the precise mechanisms that maintain social cleavages.

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Jesus College, University of Oxford (email: Online appendices are available at 10.1017/S0007123414000052.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
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