'Choice' in collective decision-making processes: Instrumental or expressive approval?

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Voters are analysed as 'taxpaying-consumers' but is choice at the ballot box premised on instrumental pursuit of preferred tax-financed outcomes? If individuals were this instrumental, they would not vote (the probability that one vote might change an electoral outcome is minuscule). 'Choice' registered depends on the motivation to participate. The more that participation depends on the intrinsic value of action (to express preference and to perform civic duty) the lower the likelihood that choice will be instrumental. Empirical analysis of the 2001 UK General Election sheds insight. 'Choice' differs systematically in different forums and there are implications for policy analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-117
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Socio-Economics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Altruism
  • Expressive participation
  • Public choice
  • Voting

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