Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

The "Ideological" Electorate: A Self-Categorization Theory of Ideological Identification

Kelly, Jarrod T (2017) The "Ideological" Electorate: A Self-Categorization Theory of Ideological Identification. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (3MB) | Preview


This dissertation examines ideological identification as a form of social identity. In doing so, it provides support for two related claims. First, ideological identity represents a decision to identify with a social group (liberals or conservatives), and is a “self-categorization” based largely upon social factors. Second, ideological identification is motivated in part by a desire within an individual to distance themselves from a partisan political identification. Much of the extant literature within political science has characterized the electorate as non-ideological, or lacking the political sophistication necessary to possess a coherent and constrained ideological belief system. In contrast, this dissertation builds support for a more “ideological” electorate in which an increasing number (majority) of citizens identify with an ideological label. The empirical studies contained within show that this ideological attachment is an aspect of social identity, whereby individuals attach themselves to an ideological group, or label, that best aligns with their own social characteristics. In addition, this work demonstrates that one reason why ideological identification has been increasing is because of threats to individuals’ partisan identities. In the present era of partisan polarization, the parties are perceived in an increasingly negative manner. Certain partisans respond to this threat by distancing themselves from their partisan identity and becoming more strongly attached to an ideological identity.
Chapter One introduces the simultaneous trends of increasing ideological identification and decreasing partisan identification. Chapter Two provides then provides a review of the literature on partisanship and ideology and presents a new theory of ideological identification. Chapter Three identifies stereotypes of partisan and ideological groups and shows that aligned groups (Democrats and liberals; Republicans and conservatives) are viewed as highly similar, which can facilitate a transition between partisan and ideological identities. Further, the degree of similarity between an individual’s own personal/social characteristics and their beliefs about ideological groups predicts strength of ideological identification. Chapters Four and Chapter Five then present evidence that partisan threat causes weak partisan identifiers to transition from partisan to ideological identification. Chapter Six concludes


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kelly, Jarrod Tjtk47@pitt.edujtk47
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairHurwitz, Jonhurwitz@pitt.eduhurwitz
Committee CoChairShineman, Victoriashineman@pitt.edushineman
Committee MemberWoon, Jonathanwoon@pitt.eduwoon
Committee MemberMondak, Jeffrey
Date: 24 September 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 April 2017
Approval Date: 24 September 2017
Submission Date: 14 July 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 244
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Political Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: political ideology, social identity, partisanship, political psychology, polarization, culture war
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2017 21:35
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2017 21:35


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item