Political Behavior

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 339-353

First online:

From occupational involvement to political participation: An exploratory analysis

  • Richard SobelAffiliated withCenter of International Studies, Princeton UniversityRoper Center, University of Connecticut

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Since Mill and Tocqueville, theorists have speculated that local participation, particularly involvement in workplace decision making, contributes to participation in wider politics. Theory suggests there should be two types of relationships between work and politics. First, there should be a correspondence between similarly formal or authoritative occupational and political involvements. Second, occupational participation should generate political participation. Thus, both authority patterns and actual participation connect work to politics.

This paper hypothesizes that, other things being equal, occupational involvement, such as authority and participation at work, generates wider political participation, and that this influence occurs most strongly across levels of similar formality between the occupational and political spheres. The study finds that work participation, in fact, generates political participation, and that the connection is strongest along a hierarchy of formality connecting participation from the workplace to politics.