I have two main research streams. The first examines the structural determinants and electoral consequences of individuals' perceptions of the deservingness of welfare state beneficiaries, while the second analyzes the relationship between macro-social change and party politics. Both share a focus on advanced industrial democracies. Please scroll down to see a description of my publications and ongoing projects.
PUBLISHED AND UNDER REVIEW
MARKS, GARY, DAVID ATTEWELL, LIESBET HOOGHE, JAN ROVNY, AND MARCO STEENBERGEN (2022). "THE SOCIAL BASIS OF POLITICAL PARTIES: A NEW MEASURE AND SURVEY." BRITISH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE.
This article proposes a measure of the social structuration of political parties. The measure has some distinctive virtues. It assesses the social bases of partisanship from the standpoint of the political party, and it provides a simple and transparent method for assessing the relative weight of social-structural and behavioral factors for party composition. We illustrate the power of this measure through a comparison of political parties in 30 European countries since 1975.
ATTEWELL, DAVID (2021). "REDISTRIBUTION ATTITUDES AND VOTE CHOICE ACROSS THE EDUCATIONAL DIVIDE." EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF POLITICAL RESEARCH.
How does the educational divide impact contemporary redistributive politics in the knowledge economy? Traditional political economy models which see education as a labour market asset predict the relatively secure educated will oppose redistribution, while the precarious less-educated will support it. In contrast, a conception of education as a marker of social status suggests that the less-educated may be more inclined than status-secure university graduates to draw harsh boundaries against welfare state beneficiaries as a means to maintain social esteem. Building on both theoretical approaches, I analyze 2016 European Social Survey data from 15 Western European countries. I find that education has a negative relationship to support for an expansive welfare state. By contrast, education is strongly positively associated with perceptions of welfare state beneficiaries as deserving.
This has implications for education as a structural divide in electoral politics. Evidence that attitudes towards the scope of the welfare state mediate the effects of education on vote choice is mixed. However, KHB mediation analyses decomposing the effects of education on vote choice reveal that deservingness perceptions are a particularly substantial mediator of education effects on voting for radical right and green parties. This explains in part why these parties represent the poles of the educational divide, whose attitudinal basis is usually understood to be socio-cultural rather than redistributive.
ATTEWELL, DAVID (2021). "DESERVINGNESS PERCEPTIONS, WELFARE STATE SUPPORT, AND VOTE CHOICE IN WESTERN EUROPE." WEST EUROPEAN POLITICS.
In today’s diversified party systems, the economic dimension is no longer a unidimensional conflict between pro-redistribution voters of the left and anti-redistribution voters of the right. Analyzing 2016 European Social Survey data for 15 Western European countries, this article argues that perceptions of the deservingness of benefit recipients and attitudes towards the scope of the welfare state are distinct, powerful predictors of vote choice. The effects of attitudes on these two subdimensions are strong and congruent in predicting voting for older party families. Deservingness perceptions are an even more powerful predictor of voting for green and radical right parties, while attitudes towards the scope of the welfare state are not significant predictors of voting for either. Disaggregating the economic left/right reveals that certain types of redistribution attitudes predict vote choice even for parties known for their positions on ‘non-economic’ issues like immigration and European integration.
SELECTED PROJECTS IN PROGRESS
SURVEY PROJECT: "SYMBOLIC BOUNDARIES AND CLASS POLITICS"
My original survey project evaluates the connection between the symbolic boundaries that individuals draw with respect to class (i.e. how they understand their own class groups to be different from other groups) and their voting behavior. Qualitative sociology has provided vital insights on the content and strength of symbolic class boundaries, but due to data limitations is unable to survey the entire class landscape at the same time or assess in a nationally representative way the association between boundaries and political behavior.
This leaves open questions about the relationship between upwards and downwards boundaries drawn by individuals at various locations in the class structure and their voting behavior. To gain insight on this, I am fielding a large-N survey in the United Kingdom which draws from different class boundaries already identified inductively by qualitative researchers. The survey measures the content and intensity of symbolic class boundaries drawn by individuals, and tests the extent to which they predict individuals’ vote choice for different parties.
KUHN, EROLL, DAVID ATTEWELL, AND ANDREAS JOZWIAK. "THE ELECTORAL IMPACTS OF IMMIGRATION WITHOUT ETHNIC DIFFERENCE: CO-ETHNIC MIGRATION IN GERMANY."
Much of the recent literature on the effects of immigration on electoral politics finds that local increases in immigration are associated with the success of far right parties. However, we know little about the effects of co-ethnic migration on ethnic-majority voting patterns, or the mechanisms linking the two. This paper leverages variation in the allocation of 2.8 million ethnic German migrants (Aussiedler) from former Soviet States in the 1980s and 90s to explain county-level voting behavior in Germany.
At the aggregate level, we find no electoral anti-immigrant backlash in the form of increased vote share for radical right parties. Instead, larger Aussiedler arrivals were associated with greater vote share for the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which had strongly encouraged their immigration. Our individual-level analysis offers evidence of an attitudinal mechanism, namely an increase in empathy for immigrants, conditional on partisan identity.