Also found in: Wikipedia.
party identificationa voter's enduring link with a political party (Budge, 1976). In the UK Butler and Stokes (1969) sought to establish a respondent's party identification, asking the question: ‘Generally speaking do you usually think of yourself as Conservative, Labour or Liberal?’ Similar questions are widely elsewhere. Some early students of VOTING BEHAVIOUR assumed that voters might operate like individual consumers, with voting a matter of‘personal preference’ and voters likely to be readily persuaded to change sides. Subsequent studies of ‘party identification’ have generally shown that this is not so, that in a majority of cases voters possess a ‘party identification’ to which they return even if in a particular election, or when polled in advance of an election, their ‘voting intention’ may sometimes differ from this. The increased volatility of voting behaviour in recent years (see also CLASS DEALIGNMENT) may have reduced the numbers of people who possess a persistent party identification (and also its strength), but it remains the case that individual voting behaviour possesses a continuity over elections. See also PARTY IMAGE, POLITICAL ATTITUDES, POLITICAL PARTICIPATION.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000