Should we study political behaviour as rituals? : Towards a general micro theory of politics in everyday life

Political behaviour research is divided into several explanatory approaches. They have in common that they disregard, to varying extents, the social bases of their explanatory concepts. To fill this void, the present article explores the theoretical advantages of applying Randal Collins’s ritual theory to political behaviour. The central claim is that any cognitive factor, such as interests, values, norms or identities has to be infused with emotional resonance in concrete social interaction in order to become a relevant motivation for political behaviour. Based on this argument, the article develops four testable propositions and discusses how they relate to existing approaches. The article concludes that ritual-based emotions are a unified motivational basis for political behaviour, which help understand which cognitive factor becomes politically relevant in a specific situation. The theoretical discussion is complemented with suggestions of how to study political rituals empirically.


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