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THE PERSONAL SIDE OF POLITICS: A STUDY OF BASIC HUMAN VALUES IN THE UK PARLIAMENT

Weinberg, James (2018) THE PERSONAL SIDE OF POLITICS: A STUDY OF BASIC HUMAN VALUES IN THE UK PARLIAMENT. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This doctoral thesis examines the personalities of national politicians and is the first of its kind to apply the socio-psychological model of Basic Human Values (Schwartz, 1994) to Members of the UK Parliament. In doing so this thesis departs from the dominant traditions of Historical Institutionalism and, more recently, interpretivism in UK parliamentary studies. Interdisciplinary insights and methods from political psychology are combined to examine a number of important questions and findings relevant to wider pools of literature on anti-politics, political behaviour and representation. Specifically, I investigate 'who' enters elite politics, 'how' they behave in elected office, and 'why' public perceptions of politicians' psychological characteristics might be inaccurate. To answer these questions, I collect and analyse original survey data on the basic values, ideologies, attitudes and demographics of a sample of 106 Members of Parliament (MPs). These surveys are supported by in-depth semi-structured interviews. Firstly, these data are analysed alongside comparative data on the public from the 7th round of the European Social Survey to reveal a process of psychological self-selection to elite politics in the UK. In demonstrating that certain citizens with particular value profiles are more likely to enter elected office, these results make an original contribution to prior research into political ambition and recruitment. Secondly, I build a theoretically-driven model of parliamentary behaviour and test it empirically to show that MPs' basic values impact significantly upon legislative behaviours as diverse as voting, asking written questions, and signing Early Day Motions. Thirdly, the results of a conjoint experiment with a large sample of the British public are presented to assess the relative importance of various attitudinal and demographic variables, alongside basic values, for voters’ ideal-type politicians. Compared with self-report data on UK MPs, this conjoint experiment reveals a 'perception gap' whereby citizens get MPs with the psychological characteristics they desire but do not perceive this congruence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr James Weinberg
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2018 13:42
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2018 13:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21673

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