On SAGE Insight: Why do young people join parties? The influence of individual resources on motivation

From Party Politics        

Party membership is usually explained either by resource-based models such as the socioeconomic standard model or with the incentives that a membership can provide. The former approach stresses the role of skills, availability, and social position, while the latter explains membership as an individual cost–benefit calculation.

These two aspects are likely interlinked, but so far no empirical combination of both explanations exists. This analysis conventionalizes a typology of young party members that links incentives and resources. A survey among young party members of the German Social Democratic Party under 36 years old shows that three different types of members can be identified combining incentives and resources.

This article aimed to answer two questions: Which groups of young members can be identified based on their motivation to join the party? And, how do individual resources of the members influence their motivation? This analysis has two important results. First, individual resources influence the motivation to become a party member. This confirms the need for an integrated concept of incentive- and resource-based explanations of party membership. Second, motivations of party members are divers, but party members cannot be grouped along traditional distinctions of professional, moral-ideological, and social incentives. While the vast majority was moral-ideologically motivated to join, the dividing line between members is the relevance they attribute to professional incentives. The results fit arguments about the life cycle of young people: Young people in education value the professional incentives that a party has to offer more because they are still on their way of settling into a professional life.

Abstract

Party membership is usually explained either by resource-based models such as the socioeconomic standard model or with the incentives that a membership can provide. The former approach stresses the role of skills, availability, and social position, while the latter explains membership as an individual cost–benefit calculation. These two aspects are likely interlinked, but so far no empirical combination of both explanations exists. This analysis conventionalizes a typology of young party members that links incentives and resources. A survey among young party members of the German Social Democratic Party (N = 4006) shows that three different types of members can be identified combining incentives and resources. I present a membership typology where the basic conflict between members is whether they seek professional benefits. The groups of members differ in severe aspects of their resources, especially those with connections to the traditional labor milieu reject professional motivations.

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Article details
Why do young people join parties? The influence of individual resources on motivation
Regina Weber,
First Published August 8, 2018
DOI: 10.1177/1354068818792576
From Party Politics

 

 

 

     
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