James Tilley

James Tilley
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Politics and International Relations

BA DPhil (Oxon)

About

65
Publications
24,490
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3,483
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Introduction
Professor James Tilley currently works at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford. James does research in Elections, Public Opinion and Voting Behaviour and Comparative Politics. One of his current projects is 'Brexit Attitudes.'
Additional affiliations
January 2004 - present
University of Oxford
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (65)
Article
Why are many traditional governing parties of advanced democracies in decline? One explanation relates to public perceptions about mainstream party convergence. Voters think that the centre-left and -right are increasingly similar and this both reduces mainstream partisan loyalties and makes room for more radical challengers. Replicating and extend...
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How do votes in direct democratic ballots translate into policy preferences about future outcomes and affect the perceived legitimacy of those outcomes? This article examines these questions in the context of sovereignty referendums: specifically, the 2016 referendum on British membership of the European Union (EU). While the referendum result gave...
Article
In 2020, the United Kingdom became the first member state to leave the European Union (EU). This followed a referendum on membership in 2016. Public opinion about EU membership has been regularly measured since the 1970s in Britain. In this Poll Trends article, we document the changes in sentiment towards the EU in a variety of different ways. We r...
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How much public and elite support is there for the use of a citizens’ assembly – a random selection of citizens brought together to consider a policy issue – to tackle major, deadlock-inducing disagreements in deeply divided places with consociational political institutions? We focus on Northern Ireland and use evidence from a cross-sectional attit...
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Recent elections have featured various politicians directly appealing to the working class, yet we know little about how citizens react to class appeals from candidates. We investigate this question using survey experiments conducted in the United States and Denmark. We show that symbolic class rhetoric substantially influences candidate evaluation...
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A well-functioning democracy requires a degree of mutual respect and a willingness to talk across political divides. Yet numerous studies have shown that many electorates are polarized along partisan lines, with animosity towards the partisan out-group. In this article, we further develop the idea of affective polarization, not by partisanship, but...
Article
Conjoint analysis is a common tool for studying political preferences. The method disentangles patterns in respondents’ favorability toward complex, multidimensional objects, such as candidates or policies. Most conjoints rely upon a fully randomized design to generate average marginal component effects (AMCEs). They measure the degree to which a g...
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This article argues that post-conflict consociational arrangements in ethnically divided societies incentivize moderation by political parties, but not policy differentiation outside the main conflict. This results in little policy-driven voting. Analysing party manifestos and voter survey data, we examine the evolution of party policy and cleavage...
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Full-text available
Conjoint analysis is a common tool for studying political preferences. The method disentangles patterns in respondents' favorability toward complex, multidimensional objects, such as candidates or policies. Most conjoints rely upon a fully randomized design to generate average marginal component effects (AMCEs). These measure the degree to which a...
Article
Despite the global growth in the use of Voter Advice Applications (VAAs), which advise users on how similar their own policy views are to the policy positions of the political parties, there have been few field experiments that isolate the causal effects of VAA use on party support. Nor has there been much investigation of how VAAs may help to amel...
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Comparative political science has largely ignored the marked cross-national variation in Green party electoral performance. This article uses a unique aggregate dataset of 347 parliamentary elections from 32 countries over the course of 45 years to test competing theories about the causes of Green party success. The findings show that voter demand,...
Article
Contrary to much conventional wisdom, this article shows that class is still used by people to sort others into groups, that this sorting is largely on the basis of income and occupation and that it occurs in conditions of both high and low income inequality. Uniquely, we use both open-ended survey questions and a factorial survey experiment to sho...
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The link between individual perceptions of the economy and vote choice is fundamental to electoral accountability. Yet, while it is well-established that economic perceptions are correlated with voting behaviour, it is unclear whether these perceptions are rooted in the real economy or whether they simply reflect voters’ partisan biases. This artic...
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In this paper we revisit the often disregarded ‘pocketbook voting’ thesis that suggests that people evaluate governments based on the state of their own finances. Using data from the British Household Panel Survey over the last 20 years, we measure changes in personal financial circumstances and show that the ‘pocketbook voting’ model works. Crucia...
Book
The New Politics of Class argues that reports of the death of class in Britain are premature. In fact, there has been huge social continuity in class divisions over the last fifty years, both in terms of economic inequality and political attitudes. The change that has occurred is political. Party policies, politicians’ rhetoric, and the social comp...
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The Eurozone crisis has altered the party political landscape across Europe. The most visible effect is the rise of challenger parties. The crisis not only caused economic hardship, but also placed considerable fiscal constraints upon a number of national governments. Many voters have reacted to this by turning their back on the traditional parties...
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This article shows that religion has been consistently important in predicting voters’ party choices in Britain over time. The relationship between religion and party preference is not primarily due to the social make-up of different religious groups, nor to ideological differences between religious groups, whether in terms of social conservatism,...
Article
Geoff Evans and James Tilley outline the terms of a new class war against the working class, based on its shrinking share of the population, low political participation rates and the decreasing return it provides to electoral vote-chasers. To be working class is not problematic when most people are in the same situation. However, as the class struc...
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This article investigates the extent to which economic ideology affects people's support for European Union integration and how this is conditioned by economic context. We argue that people on the economic left who live in a country with conditions of high income inequality and little state ownership will support European integration, because more...
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As an emerging federal system, the European Union (EU) divides decision-making powers between multiple levels of government. Yet little is known about how EU citizens attribute responsibility to the EU. In particular, do people hold the EU, rather than national governments, responsible for different policy outcomes, some of which are primarily deci...
Book
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A key component of democratic accountability is that citizens understand 'who is to blame'. Nonetheless, little is known about how citizens attribute responsibility in the European Union or how those perceptions of responsibility matter. This book presents the first comprehensive account of how citizens assign blame to the EU, how politicians and t...
Article
This paper examines how ageing and generational formative experiences affect vote choices in Britain. Using a combination of panel data and assumptions about party fortunes we estimate ageing effects. These are then entered into a model using cross-sectional data from 1964 to 2010 to estimate generational differences in vote choice. Ageing increase...
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Recent literature has shown that the long established link between economic performance and electoral outcomes is conditioned by a country's institutions and government, what is often termed ‘clarity of responsibility’. In this article two distinct dimensions of the clarity of the political context are identified: institutional and government clari...
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Assigning credit and blame in systems of multilevel government, such as federal states, requires information. This paper examines how voters respond to information about policy outcomes when attributing responsibility to multiple levels of government in a European context. Using an experimental design, we show that the responsibility attributions o...
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The collapse of the class basis of party choice in Britain since the 1980s has been assumed to result from the diminishing distinctiveness of social classes in the postindustrial world. We argue instead that class dealignment results from the impact of an ideologically restricted choice set on the electoral relevance of values concerning inequality...
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We investigate the reasons why some people, and some countries, place greater or lesser emphasis on the idea that membership of a nation is tied to ancestry. We test the influence of two key factors - economic development and ethnic division. Economic development is strongly associated with support for the ancestry criterion of national membership....
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Why has the association between class and party declined over time? Contrary to conventional wisdom that emphasizes the fracturing of social structures and blurring of class boundaries in post-industrial society, it is argued here that class divisions in party preferences are conditioned by the changing shape of the class structure and the effect o...
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The idea that voters use elections to hold governments to account for their performance lies at the heart of democratic theory, and countless studies have shown that economic performance can predict support for incumbents. Nonetheless recent work has challenged this simple link between policy performance and party choice by arguing that any relatio...
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Since the late 1980s, Northern Ireland has seen a radical electoral shift away from the historically dominant parties in the Catholic and Protestant blocs – the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), respectively – towards the traditionally more ‘extreme’ parties – Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP...
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The idea that voters use elections to hold governments to account for their performance lies at the heart of democratic theory, and countless studies have shown that economic performance can predict support for incumbents. Importantly, however, recent literature has shown that the link between economic performance and electoral outcomes is conditio...
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This article examines how voters attribute credit and blame to governments for policy success and failure, and how this affects their party support. Using panel data from Britain between 1997 and 2001 and Ireland between 2002 and 2007 to model attribution, the interaction between partisanship and evaluation of performance is shown to be crucial. Pa...
Article
The study of citizens’ attitudes to the EU is in danger of splintering, with context‐specific transition‐based models being applied in the former communist countries, models that — at face value — have no applicability in the Western states. Using data from the 2004 European Election Study, we test a model of attitude generation that is applicable...
Article
Factors relating to identity and to economics have been shown to be important predictors of attitudes towards the European Union (EU). In this article, we show that the impact of identity is conditional on economic context. First, living in a member state that receives relatively high levels of EU funding acts as a ‘buffer’, diluting the impact of...
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Governing parties generally win fewer votes at European Parliament elections than at national electionsmost common explanation for this is that European elections are ‘second order national elections’ acting as mid-term referendums on government performance. This article proposes an alternative, though complementary, explanation: voters defect beca...
Article
Rather than treating conservative Protestantism as a homogenous phenomenon, recent literature has underlined the importance of disaggregating this group to illuminate important attitudinal and behavioral differences between conservative Protestants. However, the methods used to empirically operationalize conservative Protestantism have not always b...
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The 2004 report Personal Responsibility and Changing Behaviour: The State of Knowledge and its Implications for Public Policy by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit is an attempt to draw together social science literature that explains why it is difficult for governments to influence individual citizens. Underlying this is the idea that across diver...
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Political cleavages are often understood as deriving from either deep-rooted social divisions or institutional incentives. Contemporary Northern Ireland provides a test of the mutability of apparently entrenched cleavages to institutional change. Research undertaken before the ceasefire in the 1990s found noticeable asymmetries in the patterns of c...
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  One of the most influential explanations of voting behaviour is based on economic factors: when the economy is doing well, voters reward the incumbent government and when the economy is doing badly, voters punish the incumbent. This reward-punishment model is thought to be particularly appropriate at second order contests such as European Parliam...
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This article focuses on whether the provision of ‘objectively’ correct information to voters about where parties stand on an issue affects their placement of the parties, and ultimately their own position, on that issue. Classic theories of how mass publics make voting decisions assume that voters are able relatively accurately to place themselves...
Article
This article examines how national pride has changed in Britain since the beginning of the 1980s. We show that there have been large declines in pride and that this is exclusively generational in nature; with more recent generations having substantially lower levels of pride in 'Britishness' than previous generations. Confirming the reality of 'Tha...
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This article adapts and tests the theory of enlightened preferences on two British electoral cycles: 1992–97 and 1997–2001. Using individual-level panel data, it extends previous work by explicitly incorporating the role of political knowledge. Its findings are generally very supportive of the theory. It is shown that knowledge of party platforms v...
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This research note explores the mechanisms behind age differences and changes over time in one of the two major value dimensions in British politics, libertarian-authoritarianism. I show that the British electorate has become substantially more libertarian over the last 30 years, but that older people have remained more authoritarian than younger p...
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This paper explores the distinction between ethnic and civic conceptions of the nation in Britain and the implications for xenophobia and multiculturalism. There is broad consensus on the importance of civic aspects of the nation, such as respecting political institutions, whereas there is dissent on the importance of ethnic aspects such as the rol...
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Much attention in political science has been devoted to an explication of how voters make use of issues to guide political preferences. The extant literature suggests that, while sophisticated voters make greater use of issue proximity in their electoral calculus, issues remain important to even the least politically knowledgeable of citizens. The...
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Political knowledge has been shown to influence a host of substantively important outcomes, such as participation, issue preference and vote choice. The causes of individual heterogeneity in knowledge have gone relatively unexplored however. What leads some individuals to become political sophisticates and others not? Generally, motivation has been...
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It has long been asserted that strong evangelical religious beliefs underpin strong unionist and loyalist political attitudes in Northern Ireland. Although recent literature has argued for a wide diversity of political attitudes amongst evangelicals, this has not been quantified. Based on analysis of the 1991 Northern Irish Social Attitudes Survey...
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
Using data from the British Election Studies and the British Household Panel Study, this research note examines how family formation factors, such as marriage and childrearing, affect church attendance in Britain. Debates in the United States have centered on how, first, apparent aging effects could be due to family formation or be evidence for coh...
Article
Using data from the World Values Survey, this article examines a series of strongly held values and beliefs concerning the political and wider social world, on a cross-nationally comparative basis. Orientations such as political outlook, attitudes toward religion, political participation, social movements, women's roles, and satisfaction with life...
Article
Political partisanship is often claimed to be influenced by generational and life-cycle processes, with both being cited as the factor that is responsible for higher levels of Conservative identifications among older voters. Given the existence of over-time change it is difficult to assess the validity of these claims as even with repeated survey d...

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Project (1)
Project
In the referendum on 23 June 2016 voters gave the British government a mandate for Britain to be the first country to ever leave the EU. Yet, the options of ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ do not give clear guidance as to what kind of Brexit people want or will accept. At the heart of this research project is a question of huge political importance: which negotiation outcomes will be considered legitimate by the British public? The negotiations ahead involve an array of complex policy questions, including the much debated trade-off over whether the government should prioritise controlling the inflow of EU immigrants or preferential trade agreements with the EU. But there are many other policy choices that relate to EU budget contributions, EU subsidies, financial services, jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and so on. None of these featured on the referendum ballot, nor are they issues that most people gave much thought to in advance of the referendum. This project therefore aims to shed light on the question of what the Prime Minister’s repeated dictum – ‘Brexit Means Brexit’ – actually means to ordinary people. What expectations do voters, both Leavers and Remainers, have of Brexit, what process do they want the negotiations to take and ultimately what outcome do they want? Our aim is to thus gather new information on people’s views about the Brexit negotiations, but also shed light on what types of social and political cues shape these opinions. We focus on three crucial questions: What, Why and With What Consequence. - What do people expect of Brexit, what process do they want the negotiations to take and what are their preferred outcomes? - Why, and how, do people arrive at positions on these complex policy issues? - What are the consequences of these expectations and preferences for the negotiation positions of policy-makers and the legitimacy of the Brexit outcome?