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Money and meaning in elections: towards a theory of the vote

Banerjee, Mukulika (2020) Money and meaning in elections: towards a theory of the vote. Modern Asian Studies, 54 (1). 286 - 313. ISSN 0026-749X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0026749X17000798


This article offers a comprehensive set of explanations for why people vote. Based on evidence from Indian elections, where voter turnouts remain consistently high—and rising—despite voting not being compulsory, the article shows that two broad sets of reasons exist. First, a set of transactional factors, labelled ‘money’ here, encompass within it the instrumental and coercive reasons that propel people to vote. Secondly, evidence shows that people also attribute ‘meaning’ to the act of voting itself so they vote for the sake of performing the act itself. Drawing from the wider literature and the author's own ethnographic work, including comparative ethnographic research conducted by a team across India, this article brings together these diverse set of reasons to propose a holistic explanation for why people vote.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2019 13:00
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 09:30

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