Expressive Political Behaviour : Foundations, Scope and Implications

Hamlin, Alan and Jennings, Colin (2009) Expressive Political Behaviour : Foundations, Scope and Implications. Discussion paper. University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

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A growing literature has focussed attention on ‘expressive’ rather than ‘instrumental’ behaviour in political settings - particularly voting A common criticism of the expressive idea is that its myriad possibilities make it rather ad hoc and lacking in both predictive and normative bite. We agree that no single clear definition of expressive behaviour has emerged to date, and no detailed foundations of specific expressive motivations have been provided, so that there are rather few specific implications drawn from the analysis of expressive behaviour. In response, we provide a foundational discussion and definition of expressive behaviour that accounts for a range of factors. We also discuss the content of expressive choice distinguishing between moral, social and emotional cases, and relate this more general account to the specific theories of expressive choice in the literature. Finally, we discuss the normative and institutional implications of expressive behaviour.