Influence Of Sex On Voting Behaviour: Book Review

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Without a reasonable doubt, the entry of voters into the political arena marks a defining moment in a country’s politics. However, since Jamaica’s transition to an independent self government, it is amongst the few countries who has employed a competitive party system (Stone, 1978). There has been a lack of literature as it relates to voting behaviour in Jamaica, more specifically whether your sex influences your voting behaviour. Since Carl Stone’s analysis on voting behaviour in Jamaica, very few scholars have sought to update and assess the behaviour of Jamaicans who participate in voting. With that being said, it is important to distinguish sex from gender as it relates to the predictions of voting behavior as it is not entirely clear whether they may predict the same outcome.

Voters often identify themselves with a party who they believe best represent issues of politics, social issues or state of the economy. The difference in voter behaviour persists across democracies which can be seen through the varying degrees of gender gaps within countries. Norris (1996) defines gender gap as a phrase that is all inclusive which many utilize when referring to widely different phenomena, including divergences present between men and women in terms of policy concerns, social values and party identification at the mass and elite levels. Kittilson (2016) argued that although women trail men regarding “voting attitudes and activities such as political interest and discussion,” their voting patterns are very similar today.

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Lipset (1960) found that in the US, in particular, males have shown up more at polls, engaged more in political organisations, and had better political awareness and concern than females.

Lipset (1960) found that males, in particular, have shown up more at polls, engaged more in political organisations, and had better political awareness and concern than females. However, this notion is contradicted by Figueroa (2004), who argued that women play a more dominant role in political participation than their male counterparts. He further stated that women constitute eighty percent (80%) of poll clerks and eighty percent (80%) of indoor agents. Figueroa (2004) made mention of the fact that within the grass-root structures of parties, it is the women who predominate and that they are the main ones to be seen attending local party meetings. Similarly, he was of the belief that Stone’s work did not provide an accurate depiction of participation amongst females in political life whether through representative engagement in positions of authority, dialogue, utilization of mass meetings or voting. According to Figueroa (2004), more women are actively involved in mass meetings than their male counterparts. Contrary to the belief of Professor Stone, women are the ones seen as being the mobilizing engines of the political parties. It has been stated that this increase in women’s civic engagement is the beginning of an evolution in culture that require years of reimagining the citizenry’s current socialization. Due to the fact that the previous Prime Minister was a woman, some are of the notion that ‘woman time come’ which means that gender differences could indeed be a decisive factor in determining the outcome of the election (Figueroa, 2004).

Men and women often display foreseeable contrasts in political behavior and attitude as a result of this, such distinctions have shaped the premise of demographic predictions in voting behavior (Berelson, Lazarsfeld, and McPhee, 1954). According to Berelson, Lazarsfeld, and McPhee (1954), a significant number of political discussions concerning past elections surrounds the demographics of how many, and what kind of, women supported particular kinds of candidates.

Lipset (1960) posited “women are more politically conservative than men in their ideology, party attachment and vote choice across most democracies.” Under colonial rule, voting was confined to those who owned properties. During this time, a woman’s place was within the home resulting in the opportunity to vote being bestowed on males only. This resonates within the literature which speaks to the predominance of female marginality resulting many calling for more women to participate in politics and within the voting arena. An equal playing field was created in 1944 through the establishment of universal adult suffrage which was said to be the phenomenon that allowed for increased voting participation in the English-speaking Caribbean. Lipset (1960) further expressed that the quantity of voters rose to half of the populace in every nation. Buddan in his analysis did mention that a gender gap was still present with regards to the voting behaviour of females because even though there is a large portion who engage in political participation, there are others who are still unwilling to participate in the voting process. Like Figueroa (2004), Buddan is of the belief that the electoral landscape of Jamaica is indeed in the process of changing.

A participatory citzenry is crucial as it is seen as being necessary for the democratic good (Verba 1996). If citizens do not engage in political participation, persistent patterns of unequal support along the lines of stratification such as sex, could hinder both democratic performance and political equality. Though it can be contended that women have made significant strides through their ability to participate in civic engagement, Githens et al. (1994) is of the notion that women are seen as less likely to take an interest political participation. This view is further reinforced by the Electoral Commission (2004) who posited that many are of the notion that women are least likely profess an interest in politics or to vote.

According to Briggs (2017), women possess the capabilities to have a significant impact on the results in an election. When encouraged to combine formal politics with their opinions, they quite possibly could be the driving force of real lasting change.

According to The Centre for Leadership and Governance (2007) , the May 2007 survey resulted in forty-two percent (42%) of the females identified with the People’s National Party and thirty-five percent (35%) with the Jamaica Labour Party whereas forty-one percent (41%) of the males identified with the People’s National Party and forty-two percent (42%) identified with the Jamaica Labour Party. It can therefore be said that there is a significant difference in party preference as it relates to sex. These figures justify that the gender gap has decreased but is still present. It was 42 to 35 for PNP and JLP respectively. Furthermore, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (2015) stated that there are more female voters than male voters. There are Nine Hundred and Thirty-two Thousand, Two Hundred and Forty-Six (932,246) registered female voters while there are Eight Hundred and Ninety-two Thousand Two Hundred and Forty-Six (892,246) registered male voters. As stated by Figueroa (2004 electoral landscape of Jamaica is indeed in the process of changing which is evidenced by these results. Women are increasingly engaging in political participation and currently outnumber men who were once dominated the voter’s list.

In conclusion, the literature analyzed posits the notion that a realignment in voting behaviour as it relates to sex has occurred. Many scholars have stated that women have taken on a more active role in the political sphere and are no longer taking a backseat to their male counterparts.


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