Party choice and family influence in the age of late modernity
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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This paper analyses how young first-time voters reflect their sources of influence on when considering a choice of party as they approached the 2013 parliamentary elections in Norway. Party identification has traditionally been regarded as resulting from social (class) identity, occupation or professional belonging and family influence. This view led to the much tested hypothesis of transfer of political orientations from one generation to another (Jennings & Niemi, 1974). Later, scholars like Giddens (1991) and Beck (1986) argued that social and political orientations are first and foremost characterized by reflexivity. Based on this we hypothesize that young people’s choice of party is characterized by a search for their political selves. Analysing interviews of 28 students, we found considerable support for both hypotheses where the majority voiced a strong family influence. Both groups also emphasise their independence and need for self-reflections on their choices. What characterises most of these young voter’s process of finding a political party is self-reflection on influence from either family upbringing and/or influence from peers, media or school. We therefore propose that the hypotheses should be regarded as complementary rather than rival.