Ideology and the Theory of Political Choice

Melvin Hinich and Michael C. Munger
A pioneering effort to integrate ideology with formal political theory


There is no unified theory that can explain both voter choice and where choices come from. Hinich and Munger fill that gap with their model of political communication based on ideology.

Rather than beginning with voters and diffuse, atomistic preferences, Hinich and Munger explore why large groups of voters share preference profiles, why they consider themselves "liberals" or "conservatives." The reasons, they argue, lie in the twin problems of communication and commitment that politicians face. Voters, overloaded with information, ignore specific platform positions. Parties and candidates therefore communicate through simple statements of goals, analogies, and by invoking political symbols. But politicians must also commit to pursuing the actions implied by these analogies and symbols. Commitment requires that ideologies be used consistently, particularly when it is not in the party's short-run interest.

The model Hinich and Munger develop accounts for the choices of voters, the goals of politicians, and the interests of contributors. It is an important addition to political science and essential reading for all in that discipline.

Melvin Hinich is Professor of Government, University of Texas. Michael C. Munger is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of North Carolina.

Praise / Awards

  • "Hinich and Munger's study of ideology and the theory of political choice is a pioneering effort to integrate ideology into formal political theory. It is a major step in directing attention toward the way in which ideology influences the nature of political choices."
    —Douglass C. North
  • ". . . represents a significant contribution to the literature on elections, voting behavior, and social choice."
    Policy Currents
  • ". . . a significant book. Hinich and Munger make the case for the importance of ideology in intuitive, formal, and empirical terms. . . . I would highly recommend this book to public choice scholars seek a new paradigm in which to place their research."
    Public Choice

Look Inside

Table of Contents

Ideology and Politics 1
Representing Choice by Consumers and Citizens 23
The Amended Classical Spatial Theory of Elections 39
Ideology Candidate Strategy and the Theory of Elections 61
Parties and Ideology 81
Theory and Evidence on Spatial Models of Ideology 95
Empirical Models Based on the Theory of Ideology 131
Representing Public Choices by Citizens 165
The Role of Groups 177
The Integrated Model of Politicians Voters and Interest Groups 195
The Implications of Ideology for Political Choice 221
References 239
Name Index 255
Subject Index 259

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 280pp.
  • figures, tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1996
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08413-5

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  • $39.95 U.S.

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