Political participation is self-interest... but not in the way you might think

Stephen Reicher*, Yashpal Jogdand, Caoimhe Ryan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter sets out a social psychological approach to the role of self-interest in political engagement. It argues that traditional approaches to self-interest, especially simplistic rational-choice models, presuppose that the  self  of self-interest is unitary, individualistic and presupposes what constitutes a  good . This chapter draws on contemporary social psychology to argue that the self is not unitary and that the nature of self is always subject to contestation. This chapter additionally argues that the way we understand self and self-interest is actively mobilised and is a function of leadership processes. In sum, this chapter proposes that the core issue of political participation is not whether it is or isn t in our self interest but rather how politicians constitute the self so as to make participation - in their favour - to be in our interests. This is illustrated by using a wide range of examples from the UK, India and elsewhere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical (Dis) Engagement: The Changing Nature of the 'Political'
EditorsNathan Manning
PublisherPolicy Press
ISBN (Print)9781447317012
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • political participation
  • self interest
  • identity
  • political mobilisation


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