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A new political divide? Contemporary beliefs may no longer be just left or right

05 February 2019
Maite Laméris

The traditional debate on political ideology has been dominated by the view that political preferences are either left or right. However, recent events in the political landscape have blemished this traditional view of ideology, raising questions as: is the left-right divide ill-suited for the contemporary political environment? And if so, what could be an alternative ideological divide? Inspired by these questions, Maite Laméris studied the role of political ideology in political economy research. She will be awarded a PhD by the University of Groningen on 14 February 2019.

Firstly, Laméris studied whether the effect of upward income mobility on preferences for income redistribution varies between individuals with different political preferences. She found that support for redistribution is lower among right-wing individuals that expect upward income movements. Left-wing individuals support redistribution regardless of their income expectations.

Four dimensions of political ideology

Secondly, Laméris tested whether the left-right measure is still suited to measure traditional, i.e. economic, preferences. She found that only the right-side of the left-right divide can explain such preferences. Subsequently, the dimensionality of political ideology was studied, on the basis of which an alternative measure is proposed. This alternative captures four dimensions of ideology: preferences for economic equality; preferences for markets and efficiency; preferences for self-determination; and nationalist, protectionist and populist preferences.

Individual differences in values and beliefs

Thirdly, Laméris studied sources of heterogeneity in political ideology by examining values and beliefs of students. She tested whether there are individual differences in values and beliefs, and whether and how these change over time. Significant heterogeneity in students’ values and beliefs is found. Moreover, studying a certain discipline confirms and strengthens this heterogeneity.

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Contact: Maite Laméris

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