Expressive political behaviour: foundations, scope and implications

Alan Hamlin, Colin Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)
512 Downloads (Pure)


A growing literature has focused attention on ‘expressive’ rather than ‘instrumental’ behaviour in political settings, particularly voting. A common criticism of the expressive idea is that it is ad hoc and lacks both predictive and normative bite. No clear definition of expressive behaviour has gained wide acceptance yet, and no detailed understanding of the range of foundations of specific expressive motivations has emerged. This article provides a foundational discussion and definition of expressive behaviour accounting for a range of factors. The content of expressive choice – distinguishing between identity-based, moral and social cases – is discussed and related to the specific theories of expressive choice in the literature. There is also a discussion of the normative and institutional implications of expressive behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)645-670
Number of pages26
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011


  • expressive behaviour
  • identity
  • moral choice
  • populism
  • institutional design


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