Diversity and politics

Maps (and pictures) in our heads

Much work has been done exploring how context (or place) affects the political attitudes people adopt and the political actions they take. Often the empirical strategy is to combine individual level survey data with administrative data from some level of geography. However, it is not obvious that any particular census unit is politically salient to people and even less obvious that people see these units similarly. As an alternative to the standard approach, this project proposes and implements a new way of measuring context at the individual level, by asking people directly to draw on maps. We included a map drawing exercise in a survey of roughly of 7000 Canadians, asking them to draw their "community" and we then study how these personally relevant descriptions of place and the perceptions of them affect people's political attitudes and behaviour. The project contributes to the study of diversity, context and political geography by improving the measurement of personally relevant places via the linking of a map drawing computer interface to a large scale survey and also by clarifying the mechanism behind contextual effects by directly asking people to describe their environments.

Work in progress
"Maps in People's Heads as a New Measure for Context"

"Do You See What I See? Pseudoenvironments, Ethnic Diversity, and Social Capital"
People: Jake Bowers (co-PI); Cara Wong (co-PI); Mark Fredrickson; Ashlea Rundlett

Funding: SSHRC