Political Abstentionism in Opinion Polls
Several days ago, I was reading Pierre Bourdieu's book Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Since a new opinion poll had just come out of Hong Kong on the Chief Executive election, I used the poll data to illustrate the Bourdieu's points. This was the post "I Don't Know". Such a post is inspired as well as mindless in that I didn't have to do much, except to use Bourdieu's words and the poll data, and the entire argument falls into place.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, I realized that I have not written anything about Latin America for some time. I really have not been paying too much attention there, and I have nothing new to say. But this particular post gave me an idea, and all I needed was the corresponding Latin American data. So this entire post has been reframed as Political Abstentionism in Opinion Polls on the sister site Zona Latina. The difference is that the Hong Kong opinion poll data have been replaced with data from a consumer survey in Brazil.
The process has some bearing on the glocalization problem. The word 'glocalization' blends the seemingly oppositional concepts of 'globalization' and 'localization'.
On one hand, before I even prepared the Brazilian data, I was confident that it would turn out the same way. If things had turned out differently, it would be stunning; in fact, it would even be a publishable paper because it goes against all common expectations. Indeed, if you do compare the two essays, they are very much consistent with each other. The probability of being able to answer politically oriented opinion questions is greater for men than women and rises with education capital and socio-economic position.
On the other hand, there may be some minor discrepancies due to local variations. So I had to point out that whereas Bourdieu asserted that the probability was greater among the young than the old, I had to point out that Brazil had to go through a period under military dictatorship and therefore people of different ages have different perceptions and opinions. Whereas Bourdieu believe that those who belong political parties are more probable to have political opinions, I had to point out that political patronage exists in Latin America and its appeal is economic benefits as opposed to political theories; thus party membership does not automatically imply political maturity.
There is another interesting comparison between these two essays. When the first essay appeared here, it was a blog post read by a few hundred people. When the second essay was published, it appeared as an article on a mainstream media (MSM) website. This website has millions of visitors each year and has been in operation since 1996, long before the word blog (or weblog) was even invented. The two essays are identical in structure, and there are no substantive differences to make one more or less credible or ethical than the other. That is why you won't see me in any MSM-versus-blog debate, because I believe that the distinction (and Bourdieu will appreciate the use of the word here) is arbitrary.