University of Gothenburg
Hand that puts voting card into ballot box on Election Day
Photo: Johan Wingborg

No wo/man is an island - A social theory of economic voting

The overall aim of the project is to advance our knowledge of how individuals' personal economic situation can explain vote choice.

The project No wo/man is an island - A social theory of economic voting argues that previous research has too narrow a perspective on economic voting. An individual is almost never wholly dependent solely on their own income or assets. The project is therefore developing a social theory of economic voting. An individual's socio-economic network influences not only their economic position but also their political preferences. Political preferences are thus shaped both by one's own economic circumstances and the economic resources available in one's network. No wo/man is an island.

The project researchers investigate how an individual's relative economic position as part of a household couple affects how that individual votes. Furthermore, it examines how an economic shock within the individual's network, such as long-term sick leave of a family member, affects voting. The project will also investigate whether an economic shock affecting the individual has different consequences for how one votes depending on one's socio-economic network. 

To achieve this aim, the project will combine survey data from the 2018 and 2022 Swedish National Election Study, with extended register data from Statistics Sweden. Through register data that is subsequently linked to respondents in the Election Study, objective indicators of their income, assets, and events such as unemployment and sick leave will be generated. Through (anonymised) register connections to family members and relatives, corresponding economic information is generated about people in the individual's network. This approach allows the project researchers to draw conclusions about the role of the socio-economic network in the relationship between personal finances and party affiliation with greater certainty than previous studies. In this way, the project contributes to research and social debate with a nuanced and in-depth picture of how political opinion is formed and changes, and how this affects voters' choices.