(hb) 0-631-16716-1 (pb)
This book explores the nature of
electoral change in Britain during the last half century. The
period from 1945-70 was the classic era of two-party dominance
at every level of British politics: at Westminster, county hall,
and in the electorate. Since the early seventies Conservative
and Labour hegemony has remained virtually unaltered in
Parliament, but their grip has been loosened in local
government, and the popular foundations of the two-party system
have been eroded among voters.
Why has Britain evolved from a dominant to a declining two-party
system during the last fifty years? This study considers
alternative explanations for these developments, focusing on
changes in voters, parties, and political communications.
The book provides students with a fresh and accessible
perspective on theories of electoral change, placing
developments in Britain within their broader comparative
context, and challenging many conventional assumptions about
trends in voting behaviour.
"Pippa Norris has produced a very
solid and thorough book that will be useful for teaching. This
book really benefits from a serious look at a longer time-period
and plenty of international comparisons. There is an
introduction to democratic theory, followed by a systematic look
at partisan alignment, social identity and party competition,
putting them into perspective and historical context. There is
even a discussion of alternative electoral systems. This makes
sense as a book introducing students to electoral studies,
providing them with the tools to understand more complex work."
Parliamentary Affairs, Spring 1999.
"This volume presents a lucid and comprehensive overview of
electoral behaviour in Britain since 1945" Electoral Studies,
"It is certain to be a serious rival to established texts in the
field." EPOP Newsletter, January 1997.
"Norris's book is an admirable survey of the scholarly
literature on elections since 1945. It is crammed with valuable
statistics and global comparisons, but it is not disfigured by
the jargon which apparently lends most psephologists their sense
of professional dignity. As such, like most of the volumes in
this series, its style and content are ideal for undergraduate
students and for the general reader. No book of this size can be
truly comprehensive, but this one provides a lively introduction
to all the important debates among academic observers. ...On the
basis of the evidence in Norris's excellent book, it is at least
safe to predict that psephology will remain a facinating and
infuriating topic of study as long as we have voters, parties
and elections." Times Literary Supplement, January 23 1998.
"Norris provides a very competent and clear account of the
development of, and debates about, electoral behaviour in
Britain...For the intended audience of non-specialists and
students..Norris provides an excellent overview of the subject."
Party Politics January 1998.
"Throughout the author's priority is to reinforce the point that
British society, politics and electoral participation have
undergone substantial transformations. This priority is well
argues and well received, thereby equipping the reader with the
necessary tools with which to assess wider questions such as
theories of party and voter alignment...It is invaluable to
students of electoral behaviour, chiefly because it encourages
them to see many of the familiar debates confronting
contemporary research teams through a useful
change-and-development perspective." Contemporary British