Samuel Barnes and Max Kasse (1979). Political Action: Mass participation in five western democracies. (1979).

‘Key insight: They argue that new political cleavage is emerging around a materialist/post-materialist dimension. One element of the ‘New Politics’ is a strong emphasis on broadening opportunities for political participation beyond the sphere of electoral politics, which integrates to a large extent conventional and unconventional politics (petitioning, boycotting, demonstrating, etc.); individuals who hold strongly to postmaterialist values or are otherwise dissatisfied with existing policies will be inclined to political participation, especially unconventional ones.


Method: looks at the propensity for different modes of political action (not, in fact, political action itself) using national surveys (from Austria, the FRG, the UK, the Netherlands, and the US) conducted in 1974 for the purpose of this study.


Critique:  the analysis in general rests too heavily on the assumption that measuring attitudes toward protest is measuring protest behaviour itself. Also, the analysis lacks a time-series analysis, and thus can only compare age-cohort and intergenerational attitudes.






*individuals of high socio-economic status are more likely to perceive deprivation and to be discontented with governmental performance than people low on the stratification ladder.

*protest action has increased, is increasing, and ought to increase more

**this pattern is generally observed cross-nationally.

*the antecedents of political behaviour include: levels of cognitive sophistication; levels of satisfaction-dissatisfaction with life in general and politics in specific; and value orientations (viz. postmaterialism).

*protest potential tends to be joined to conventional behaviour, thus giving the individual a greatly widened participation repertory.

*found little evidence of a stark generation gap.