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Group Identity, Rationality and Electoral Mobilization

Robert Grafstein

Journal of Theoretical Politics, 1995, vol. 7, issue 2, 181-200

Abstract: Group differences are often associated with increased political mobilization. Yet group identification is surprisingly flexible and opportunistic. This paper reconciles these two findings by modeling group identification in terms of behavioral interdependencies between a rational agent and those with whom the agent identifies. Given this kind of identification, the agent's own decisions provide useful information concerning the behavior of fellow group members, information that rational identifiers can exploit. This understanding of group identification is introduced into a model of mass elections in which there is rational participation by members of a finite number of groups with diverse political preferences. The results of the model are compared with those of existing theoretical and empirical studies of the interaction between class interest and ethnicity, with the finding that while ethnic identification increases turnout, it does not increase the polarization of the political process.

Keywords: group; rationality; elections; games; ethnicity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1995
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Handle: RePEc:sae:jothpo:v:7:y:1995:i:2:p:181-200