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Voting choices in an industrial community Murray, Kenneth Calvin

Abstract

This work presents an analysis of federal election voting choices in an industrial community. The voting choices were reported by a sample of gainfully employed residents of the community. A segment of the sample, those in unionized jobs in the industrial enterprises of the major employer, is submitted to quantitative analysis. A discussion of the significance of interest group formation and operation provides us with a theoretical basis. As industrial workers are less economically secure, are clustered into a relatively undifferentiated range of jobs, and are more isolated from the broad middle class, they will be more prone to form economic and political interest groups. One aspect of such formation is a high level of support for a worker-oriented and socialistic political party. The member of parliament for the constituency was the candidate of a party that appears to be both socialistic and worker oriented, the New Democratic Party (or NDP). Voting choices in favor of this candidate are understood in terms of our theory. They are studied by dividing our respondents by social characteristics. These social characteristics are of three kinds: general vital characteristics, (age, length of community residence, and place of birth), off-work characteristics (religious group membership and participation), and work-defined characteristics, (type of enterprise, union, and skill level). The general social characteristics are assumed to indicate access to community worker political culture. Off-work characteristics are important because they might supply individuals with social identities which override such a culture. At-work characteristics may provide issues that are quickly transformed into social identities influencing voting, given rationality, local worker culture, and the lack of overriding identities. When general and work-defined characteristics are used to study voting choices, a well-defined pattern is found. High rates of NDP support are associated with general vital characteristics that indicate higher access to community and regional political culture, and work-related characteristics that indicate "typical industrial workers" of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When the characteristics are studied in combination, complex patterns are found.

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