Sergio Galaz Garcia (Princeton University)
27 January 2022 @ 14:00 - 15:30
- Past event
“The Impact of Historical Events on Political Talk: Comparative Quantitative Evidence from Western Europe, 1973–2002”
Abstract: This paper investigates the lasting effects that emergent political contingencies — or “historical events” — have on everyday political engagement. The literature currently agrees that through generational imprinting processes, events produce cohort effects on political engagement that are positive, permanent, and larger the stronger the “disruptive intensity” of an event is. This investigation introduces an alternative theory of how events produce cohort impacts on political engagement based on “updating” rather than on “imprinting” processes. I hypothesize that (1) the more recent an event is, the larger its impact on political engagement will be due to ageing and shifting issue importance over time (Recentness Hypothesis); that (2) divisive events expand political engagement while rallying events decrease it, due how they facilitate or hinder homophily (Divisiveness Hypothesis); and (3) that events that lastingly change the political system are stronger predictors of political engagement than those that did not, by increasing their resonance with contemporaneous political issues (Effectiveness Hypothesis). I find supportive evidence for these expectations based on extensive archival and historiographic research and a comparative quantitative analysis using 30 years of survey data from 5 Western European countries. I do so by evaluating the statistical performance of 43 variables of cohort exposure to specific events as predictors of political talk, a behavioral measure of political engagement, in 360 regressions with cohort-level controls. This strategy addresses omitted variable biases and effect-measurement inconsistencies pervading current research.