Jens Olav Dahlgaard defends his PhD thesis at the Department of Political Science – University of Copenhagen

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Jens Olav Dahlgaard defends his PhD thesis at the Department of Political Science

Candidate

Jens Olav Dahlgaard

Title

"It runs in the family: How social relations within the household and family shape the decision to vote". The thesis can be purchased as an e-book through the webiste of Academic Books http://www.academicbooks.dk/en/node/5705553.

Time and venue

Tuesday 9 May 2017 at 14.00. University of Copenhagen, Centre for Health and Society, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen K., room 4.2.26. (The lunch room/Frokoststuen). Kindly note that the defence will start precisely at the announced time.

Asessment committee

  • Associate professor Asmus Leth Olsen, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (chair)  
  • Professor Donald Green, University of Columbia, USA  
  • Associate professor Cara J. Wong, University of Illinois, USA

Abstract

How and under what conditions do social relations within the household and family shape the decision to vote? In seven papers I address the question using Danish administrative data with validated turnout. I propose four qualifications to the theories of how social relations affect voter turnout within a social network, exemplified by the household and family.

The first empirical contribution is to characterize who votes in the Danish context and how we can increase voter turnout. This is used as an extended context description and to demonstrate that the regularities that predict voting and mobilization elsewhere also apply in Denmark.

The main focus of the dissertation is how social influence affects turnout. I propose that voters can be mobilized by their social network both because they want to comply with norms or signal norms to others but also that turnout can be depressed by costs imposed by social relations. The strength of social ties matters. Furthermore, social influence seems to be bound to a very specific relationship whereby a voter either responds to observed behaviors of others or the fear that others will observe his or her behavior. I do not find support for the more optimistic account according to which the communication of norms and intention is sufficient to cause social influence even in weaker ties.

The social effects I address are all within the context of the family or the household. This choice is partly driven by necessity, but I still argue that what should apply in a generalized social network should also apply in the family and household.