Term Paper: Voting Behavior

Pages: 10 (3585 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

Voting Behavior

Religion has continued to play an important role in the politics and society in the contemporary world which is characterized by ideas that are interconnected. In fact secularization theories have been found to be wanting in comparison to the influence of religion in politics. The mass influenced that is present in the religious grouping has an overarching effect on the individual's decision which seen the subjugation of personal conscious in the voting behavior. There have been subsequent studies on the voting behavior with various conclusions made on the factors which influence it most. This paper will try to analyze the relation of religion and voting behavior while addressing two research questions. The first one is how religion influences voting behavior and the second one is how catholic's conservatism influences the voting decisions of its members. The religious group members have identity which is common to all of them; they regularly interact with one another; and the different members are expected to think and act in particular ways. A special culture is constituted by the religious group and this might be distinct from other group's cultures in some ways. Myriad of information and opportunities are presented by the congregational life that aids structure the political opinions and civic engagements of the church members. The church member's political life and subsequent voting behavior cannot be understood properly if a detailed explanation of why and how the members are influenced by congregations is not provided. This makes this research questions important for further review.

Theories of Religious Dimensions and voting behavior

Three dimensions of religion: believing, belonging and behaving have been specified by scholars in the recent study of politics and religion in America. The religious community, tradition of denomination affiliation is what is referred to as belonging. The practice of faith is signified in behaving. The religious doctrines and tenets which are upheld by tradition acceptance is the believing aspect of religion. These dimensions are independent and separate aspects of religion even though they are usually associated to each other. Therefore it's impossible to refer to individuals as members of a religious group when they are non-practicing i.e. they don't behave yet they belong or doctrinal orthodoxy which are disparate within the religious communities i.e. exhibiting variations in behaving while claiming to belong. This theoretical framework is applicable in the religion of America, Great Britain and other parts of the world too (Wald, Dennis, & Samuel, 1988, p.538).

The manner in which each religion dimension impacts the political behavior specification is required in politics and religion connection detailing. The political behavior may be influenced b the belonging because the religious community may act as a repository for information or predisposition for politics. Individuals are socialized to various partisan and political preferences simply through the religious group affiliation even if they don't necessarily be part of the faith's practice. There will be reinforcement of preferences which have been socialized is likely through behaving. Political cues or information is likely to be received from the co-religionists or the clergy by the individuals placed in religious environments especially those environments which are organized like the churches by the religious practices. The political behavior may be influenced by the political and social attitude and values which are originating from the religious beliefs.

An important role is played by the political parties in the developing of relationships between the political behavior and the dimensions of religion. There may be establishment of parties so as they represent distinct traditions or religious groups as was evident in the political parties that were catholic based in the European continent. There is a direct linkage between the party and group in these cases and the social groups which the party claims to represent gives most of the support. The parties may appeal to various religious groups even if they don't represent explicitly one religious group using the policy positions or social status of the group which are in harmony with the religious values and beliefs as the base. In other perspective, those who practice religion may be appealed to generally. These groups may also hold strong beliefs and this makes the coalitions of the electorate which consists of several religious persons cutting across various religious groups if the appeal of the parties is done regardless of religious denomination or tradition.

Electoral divisions may also be created basing on religion by the parties which mobilize around secular issues especially class. Because religion rather than class is their principal focus, those with strong religious commitments or affiliations may be driven away by the parties which are class based. The supporters of these parties as a result usually are tend to consist of those who are not affiliated to any religious group, do not exhibit adherence to religious beliefs which are traditional and they rarely engage in religious behavior.

The political behavior based on religion may be influenced by the leaders of the religious group. This is because the party mobilization efforts and can be reinforced and also the connection between beliefs and values of the group and positions of party policy will be reinforced too by the religious leaders. The alliance of the party and the group can be well reinforced by the clergy to the frequent church goers because they are in the best position. The traditionally preferred party by the group members may be criticized by the religious leaders and this is referred to as prophetic conversion. It refers to conversion effort of the clergy towards the members of the religious congregation from one political view set to another or the political preferences become moderated this being of a group of members who are highly committed who would follow the normative behavior of the group in the absence of such clerical clues which are countervailing.

Links between voting behavior and religion

The broad category of religion has played several disparate roles in the field of political science and voting behavior particularly. The role of the church which can also be considered a community organization has the power to endow valuable civic skill to its member and also organize them directly around political activities which they perceive as important to their faith. The role of morals which are religiously rooted and faith in the voting behavior and policy making for both the citizens and public officials is also significant. Political ideology and partisanship is affected by the religious attitudes through the issue preferences which are the intermediary effects. Issues such as abortions and research on stem cell have influenced the faith-based voting for which the sentiments of pro-life have been tapped into (Prendergast, 1999, p.69). There has been focus on voting behavior on individual level which has then be referred to as the religious right which has also been described as frustration expression from as sector of secular America which have been alienated. Religious politics is motivated and stimulated by secularization which has made the religious groups to be motivated against it. The evangelicals voting behavior has also been described as religious threat response. For instance the evangelical Christians voted for the presidential candidates from Republican Party as the level of secularism increased in their community in the 2000 and 1996 elections of United States. In contrast, the behavior of the secularists was not altered as a reaction to the presence of the evangelists.

Effect of religion on the political attitude

The extent to which religious orientation affects the attitudes of democracy in the Arab world can be explained by two different bodies of literature which will provide possible insights and findings from present studies may contribute to each of the literatures. The first body of literature focuses mainly on issues of doctrine and political thought. The second one consisting mainly on empirical studies assesses the influence that religion and religiosity has on a number of political attitudes in Western countries.

There exists a strong historic connection that is between religion and politics in the Muslim world which reflects Islam's character as a religion of laws which pertain to organization of society and individual morality. Islam, in summary, plays an important part in shaping of the political culture which no Muslim, Middle Eastern country has been able to escape its overarching reach. The intersection of culture and politics may be a lot more pervasive than in the non-Islamic context.

Islam has influenced the Arab culture and political life for the last quarter century. There has been an emergence of new Muslim associations, study groups, welfare organizations and financial institutions which have brought about an increase in expressions of personal piety, like mosque attendance and public prayer. On another part, it has been referred to in debates on the governing of the Arab world. Muslim political parties have successfully managed to attract new young followers as well as women, men and well educated individuals, while campaigning under the banner "Islam is the solution." Some western observers have declared that there is an incompatibility between Islam and democracy. It is believed that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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