Should we study political behaviour as rituals? Towards a general micro theory of politics in everyday life

Paul Marx*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Political behaviour research is divided into several explanatory approaches. They have in common that they disregard, to varying extents, the social bases of their explanatory concepts. To fill this void, the present article explores the theoretical advantages of applying Randal Collins’s ritual theory to political behaviour. The central claim is that any cognitive factor, such as interests, values, norms or identities has to be infused with emotional resonance in concrete social interaction in order to become a relevant motivation for political behaviour. Based on this argument, the article develops four testable propositions and discusses how they relate to existing approaches. The article concludes that ritual-based emotions are a unified motivational basis for political behaviour, which help understand which cognitive factor becomes politically relevant in a specific situation. The theoretical discussion is complemented with suggestions of how to study political rituals empirically.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRationality and Society
Volume31
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)313-336
ISSN1043-4631
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Emotions
  • Randall Collins
  • interactions
  • political behaviour
  • rituals
  • social theory

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