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Issue ownership - How can it be stolen?

Conference contribution
Authors Stefan Dahlberg
Johan Martinsson
Published in MPSA
Publication year 2011
Published at Department of Political Science
Language en
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified

Abstract

Issue ownership (IO) has been an important concept in the analysis of party behaviour, party strategy and party competition for several decades. More recently, it has also been of growing interest to research on voting behaviour. Traditionally, IO has been regarded as a stable phenomenon where parties have different profiles and are advantaged by different political issues or issue areas. However, recently many studies have reported change and fluctuations concerning IO. In order to investigate the changeability of issue ownership and how it can be changed, we have experimentally investigated, through a web-based survey embedded experiment, the impact of three key factors: government performance, priority signalling, and issue framing. The study focuses on one specific issue, which is employment/unemployment. Unemployment is a major political issue in many established democracies and thus worthy of attention in itself. Despite generally weak indications that our experimental manipulations managed to influence issue ownership among our respondents, two findings stand out when summarizing our results: 1) Priority signaling seems more likely to influence issue ownership than government performance or issue framing. 2) People who have moderate evaluations of a party’s policy are more likely to be influenced by efforts to change issue ownership than people who are either clearly negative or clearly positive towards party’s policy.

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