Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 July 2007
Building on Mark Granovetter's concept of weak ties, we argue that diverse social networks can enhance the propensity of women to vote for a party of the Left. Using data from the 2000 Canadian Election Study, we test two hypotheses: First, the wider the range of women known, the more likely women are to vote for the Left, and second, the wider the range of higher-status women known, the more likely married women are to vote for the Left. We argue that socially communicated cues may be particularly consequential for women because they tend to know less about the parties and their platforms than men do. Accordingly, casual acquaintances can be an important source of new information for women. Women with more diverse ties to other women, we argue, are more likely to encounter women who are voting for the party of the Left and to recognize their shared interest in voting similarly. Our second hypothesis builds on Susan Carroll's argument that women require sufficient autonomy to express their gender-related interests in their choice of party. We argue that married women's political autonomy can be enhanced if their social networks include a range of women who do enjoy such autonomy. Ties with higher-status women can be a source of psychological resources that facilitate voting for a party of the Left. We find support for both of these hypotheses.
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