How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public
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How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public

Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes

Edited by Staffan Kumlin and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen

Staffan Kumlin and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen bring together political scientists and sociologists from different and frequently separated research communities to examine policy feedback in European welfare states. In doing so, they offer a rich menu of different methodological approaches. The book demonstrates how long-term policy legacies and short-term policy change affect the public, but also shows that such processes are contingent on individual characteristics and political context.
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Chapter 5: Structuring the vote: welfare institutions and value-based vote choices

Jane Gingrich


The core question motivating this volume is how the outputs of democratic politics ñ policies ñ become an input structuring future democratic politics. Voting is one of the most fundamental political acts that citizens engage in. Both the individual motives behind vote choices and the ways in which political contexts shape those choices have been widely studied (e.g. Dalton and Anderson 2011); nonetheless, there has been relatively less attention to the role of policy in structuring vote choices (see Henjack 2010, Pacek and Radcliff 1995 for exceptions). Policy, however, is the domain over which parties often battle, the most visible face of state activity, and often a crucial determinant of individual well-being. Other chapters in this volume examine the ways in which policies construct individual and group preferences and participation through their distributional structures. This chapter argues that policies play a further role; they structure the knowledge citizens gain from their experiences of the welfare state. Some policy structures make citizens more aware of the stakes of welfare policy ñ both for themselves and society ñ whereas others obscure its importance.

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