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Kuldeep Mathur

By Biplab Dasgupta and W.O. Morris-Jones
Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1976, xii plus 364, 65.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 2 March-April 1977

Election behaviour has been taken as an important component of political behaviour and therefore much research attention has been directed towards it. We have had a spate of studies that have attempted to operationalize certain con­cepts of political development through election data. More common of these concepts have been participation, competitive party system, institutionali­zation, etc. Invariably, there has been a lesser number of attempts to investigate whether these concepts have applicability in the Indian situation or not. There has been increasing debate among students of the political scene about the usefulness of many of these concepts for explaining Indian political behaviour. The book under review does not take cognizance of the debate but concen­trates its efforts on operationalizing three concepts by using Indian election data. The three concepts are those of parti­cipation, institutionalization and com­petition. The authors have tried to explore the connections between these three themes and to relate each to the socio-economic characteristics of the geographical groupings of people. The purpose is to relate these area units with these themes of political behaviour. Census data and information on elections up to 1967 have been used to fulfill this purpose. The unit of analysis is the district. Socio-economic characteristics of each district are identified and the districts then broadly grouped under ecological classification. Having done this, the authors have related the three themes with the district data in order to delineate the pattern or patterns of relations. Various hypotheses like ‘participation will vary with development indicators’ or ‘socio-economic characteristics will account for distribution of the parties' electoral support’ are formulated and tested. The book is largely a methodological attempt at using aggregate data to explain political behaviour in terms of these variables. In enlightening the reader on the reasons for undertaking this research, the authors point out, ‘For one of us there was the challenge of finding how far the statistical techniques already more familiar in the work of economics could be usefully employed in political analysis. For the other, there was the curiosity to see how far in practice quantitative ecological analysis would prove complementary to other research methods already in use in political studies.’ This over-concern with methods and statistics has tended to ignore more substantive aspects of the problem. A wealth of data has been analysed but one is not clear for what purpose. Apart from providing a statistical and quantitative base ...

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