Principles of Political Ecology

  • Rudolf Heberle


One of the main concerns of political sociology is the study of the interrelations between political movements and social classes. It is in this field that quantitative methods are highly desirable and where they have been most successfully applied. The public opinion poll and its analysis, the repeated interviewing of a “panel”,1 the analysis of data obtained from registration of voters for primaries2 and finally the analysis of voting in elections and referendums — all these techniques are now well developed. Each of them has certain limitations and certain advantages.


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  1. 1.
    Lazarsfeld, Paul F., Berelson, Bernard, and Gaudet, Hazel, The People’s Choice, 2nd ed. (New York, Columbia University Press, 1948).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
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  3. 3.
    A. Siegfried, Tableau Politique de la France de l’Ouest sous la Troisième République (Paris, Armand Colin, 1913), and Géographie Electorale de L’Ardèche sous la IIIe République (Paris, Armand Colin, 1949). Also:Google Scholar
  4. 3a.
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  5. 4.
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  8. 7.
    Siegfried, op. cit.Google Scholar
  9. 7a.
    In a recent formulation of his ideas Siegfried uses terms which denote attitudes rather than tendencies. He speaks of the “tone” or “temperament” which can be discerned underneath the surface of party preference. “What has to be distinguished, underneath the party, is the temperament of opposition or support, the hierarchic or egalitarian temperament, the temperament of conservatism or reformism.” (A. Siegfried, “Une Géographie de l’opinion publique est-elle possible?” La Nouvelle Revue Française, vol. 49, November, 1937, p. 791–792).Google Scholar
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    Rudolf Heberle and Alvin L. Bertrand, “Factors Motivating Voting Behavior in a OneParty State”, (Social Forces, Vol. 27, No. 4, May, 1949). Also Perry H. Howard, The Political Ecology of Louisiana, unpublished M. A. Thesis, LSU, 1951.Google Scholar
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    Sten S. Nilson, op. cit.Google Scholar
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    Francois Goguel in Morazé, op. cit., p. 3.Google Scholar
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    Compare Nilson, op. cit., p. 23: “The better studies in the sociology of elections have been made by those who possessed a good knowledge of political sciences and of general methodology (whether mathematical or not) and who had familiarized themselves completely with the city or region which they were going to study.”Google Scholar
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    See, howewer, Arnold M. Rose, “A Weakness of Partial Correlations in Sociological Studies”, American Sociological Review, Vol. 14, Aug., 1949.Google Scholar
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    Siegfried, Géographie électorale de l’Ardèche, p. 50: “The social structure, that is, the division of society into social classes, plays a decisive role in the formation of opinion and the orientation of the votes. Here interest is the essential factor under consideration. Not howewer, as one too often believes, in an individual or immediate form. The mechanism is more complex, in the sense that it associates a certain personal disinterestedness with the service of the interest of the group to which one belongs. One has a certain conception of his class, as it seems to him, and his vote conforms to that conception: the farmer thus conceptualizes a certain image of the interest of the farmer, the laborer of the workingman, the bourgeois of the bourgeoisie, the voter seeks among the candidates a temperament, a sensitivity or orientation corresponding to his own. In short, one has to do with so many myths and perhaps one can say that the people vote according to their conceptions of life. The interest is always there, but transformed, idealized, so to speak.”Google Scholar
  23. 18.
    ibid. p. 62 f.Google Scholar
  24. 19.
    Nilson, op. cit., p. 9, footnote 1, takes issue with Siegfried’s ideas concerning “la race” as a determinant of political behavior; he shows that Siegfried is not quite consistent in this point.Google Scholar
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    Morazé, op. cit., pp. 9—19.Google Scholar
  26. 21.
    The theorem of challenge-and-response has been developed by Arnold Toynbee in A Study of History, vol. I.Google Scholar
  27. 22.
    This position is taken in Rudolf Heberle, Fram Democracy to Nazism, especially Chapter IV.Google Scholar
  28. 23.
    See John A. Kinneman and Shirley E. Shipley, “The Ecology of Pluralities in Presidential Elections”, American Sociological Review, vol. 10, July 1945. — Also: P. Howard op. cit. Nilson, „Statistikk, økonomi og statsvitenskep“, in Stimulator. Nr. 1, 1950, Publikasjoner fra Chr. Michelsens Institut no. 173, discusses the opposite view which has been maintained by certain authors, but seems to think that is not sufficiently proved.Google Scholar
  29. 24.
    Nilson, Histoire et Sciences Politiques, pp. 40 to 48; also pp. 61–65.Google Scholar
  30. 25.
    ibid., p. 64.Google Scholar
  31. 26.
    Perry H. Howard, op. cit.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 1951

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolf Heberle

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