Panagopoulos, Costas (2011) "Social Pressure, Surveillance and Community Size: Evidence from Field Experiments on Voter Turnout," Electoral Studies 30(2): 353–357. doi:10.1016/j.electstud.2010.10.005
Citizens participate in elections, at least partly, because they perceive voting as a social norm. Norms induce compliance because individuals prefer to avoid enforcement mechanisms including social sanctions that can be activated by uncooperative behavior. Public visibility, or surveillance, increases the likelihood of norm-compliant behavior and applies social pressure that impels individuals to act. Some scholars have linked social pressure to community size, advancing the notion that pressure to conform to social norms is heightened in smaller, less populous communities in which citizens interact frequently and where monitoring behavior is less onerous. Others argue that even highly-populated communities can exhibit “small world” properties that cause residents to be sensitive to social pressure. In this paper, I analyze data from a recent field experiment designed to test the impact of social pressure on voting taking interactions with community size into account. The findings I report suggest community size does not moderate the impact of social pressure.
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