Politieke betrokkenheid en activiteit in Nederland 1973-1986

  • Peter Castenmiller
  • Paul Dekker


In 1985 Cleymans showed in this journal that politica! participation in Belgium did not differ much from what was found in international research in other European countries. In this article some pieces of "conventional wisdom" in the international literature about structure and selectivity of political participation are questioned with Dutch data. Furthermore, information about participation in the Netherlands is important in itself. As neighbouring countries with close connections and interrelated histories, Belgium and Holland certainly deserve more attention as objects for comparative study.  In a range of ten activities from trying to contact politicians to joining a demonstration it seems to make less and less sense to look for a polarity of conventional and unconventional participation in the Netherlands. The overall political participation since 1973 appears to remain at the same level. This finding questions popular beliefs about shifts from a rebellious beginning of the seventies to a quiet period in the second half of that decade to spectacular outbursts of unconventional political behaviour at the beginning of the eighties (new social movements) and resulting in political apathy at the moment. On a macro-level the stability of participation seems to be combined with a constant or slowly rising passive political involvement. Political involvement and participation in the 1980's
are still related with individual and social background characteristics as education, sex, age, involvement in the Labour force and religion. However, relationships are not very strong in the 1980's. Following political participation of some social categories in the 1973-1986 period, it appeared that education and leftright-selfrating are of most and possibly still growing importance. Besides the higher educated and leftisht people, public employees are the "big participators" during all the years. Students evidently lose position. The gap between the sexes seems to disappear. Whereas in Belgium working outside the home does not seem to be a factor that stimulates the participation of wamen, in the Netherlands it seems to be of an utmost importance.
It turns out that there are similarities and differences in political involvement and participation between Belgium and the Netherlands. Same differences may result from the fact that Cleymans used data of 1975, whereas we used data until 1986. It is clear, however, that there have been developments in the structure and
selectivity of participation in the Netherlands and it would be interesting to have more recent comparative information about Belgium.

How to Cite:

Castenmiller, P. & Dekker, P., (1989) “Politieke betrokkenheid en activiteit in Nederland 1973-1986”, Res Publica 31(1), p.95-110. doi:

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Published on
30 Mar 1989
Peer Reviewed