The Political Life Cycle

  • David Butler
  • Donald Stokes


There has been a natural inclination in electoral studies to consider single elections. While the focus is a useful one, it is important to see that one election with all its preliminaries is but a moment in the life of the nation or the individual citizen and that much is to be gained by taking a longer view. The processes of change are hardly to be understood without doing so. We begin here with the development of political attitudes during the lifetime of the individual voter, identifying several phases of the political “life cycle.”


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  1. From a nationwide survey undertaken in France in 1958 and reported in P. E. Converse and G. Dupeux, ‘Politicization of the Electorate in France and the United States’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 26 (1962), pp. 578–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 6.
    See W. N. McPhee and J. Ferguson, “Political Immunization,” in W. N. McPhee and W. A. Glaser, eds., Public Opinion and Congressional Elections, New York, 1962, pp. 155–79.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Butler and Donald Stokes 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Butler
    • 1
  • Donald Stokes
    • 2
  1. 1.Nuffield CollegeOxfordUK
  2. 2.Center for Political StudiesUniversity of MichiganUSA

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