The Environment of Party Support

  • David Butler
  • Donald Stokes


The role of class in electoral alignments is not a uniform fact of modern politics. There are countries where the basic division between parties cuts completely across class lines, and even in Britain class effects differ markedly from area to area. In the pages that follow we shall explore some of these variations for what they can tell us about processes by which class membership is converted into party support. We shall find in these processes a clue to a profound, if unexpectedly paradoxical, continuity in electoral change, the tendency of electoral tides to run with equal strength in all parts of Britain.


Middle Class Class Composition Total Vote Safe Seat Party Support 
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  1. 1.
    For an extended discussion of this difference between the two countries see D. E. Stokes, ‘Parties and the Nationalization of Electoral Forces’, in The American Party Systems, W. N. Chambers and W. D. Burnham, eds., New York, 1968, pp. 182–202.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    Excellent reviews of alternative explanations of his phenomenon are given in R. Putman, “Political Attitudes and the Local Community,” American Political Science Review, 50 (1966), 640–54Google Scholar
  3. K. R. Cox, “The Voting Decision in a Spatial Context,” in R. J. Chorley and P. Haggett, eds., Progress in Geography, London, 1969.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    See H. Berrington, “The General Election of 1964,” Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 128 (1965), 17ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 15.
    See especially R. D. Putnam, “Political Attitudes and the Local Community,” American Political Science Review, 60 (1966), 640–54.CrossRefGoogle 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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