We examine the individual-level characteristics and political and economic conditions associated with political discussion. To build our model of discursive engagement, we draw on existing research on political participation as well as our own theoretical reasoning. Our data cover two million individuals in twenty-eight European countries over forty-five years, and we employ a little-used approach to multilevel analysis that distinguishes variations in engagement attributable to cross-country differences from those stemming from within-country changes. Our primary findings reveal that, within countries, citizens are more likely to talk about politics at election time, when there are more electorally competitive political parties, during periods of recession, when unionization levels are higher, and when racial and ethnic diversity is greater. Across countries, political discussion is more likely where elections are ongoing and in countries with lower levels of income inequality and corruption. We also find that men and the higher-educated are more likely to discuss politics, as are those who are middle aged or employed. Our approach is wide-ranging, but it is also deliberately correlational. Future observational and experimental studies might expand on and identify the causal underpinnings of the associations we establish here.


Mayne, Quinton, and Shane P. Singh. "The Political-Economic Correlates of Discursive Engagement in Europe." Political Research Quarterly (March 2021).