Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


‘How Voters Feel’: Latest Book by Professor Stephen Coleman is Published

March 1st, 2013


Professor Stephen Coleman has published his latest book, How Voters Feel, with Cambridge University Press.

In the book, he sets out to unearth the hidden genealogies of democracy, and particularly its most widely recognized, commonly discussed and deeply symbolic act: voting. By exploring the gaps between voting and recognition, being counted and feeling counted, having a vote and having a voice and the languor of count taking and the animation of account giving, there emerges a unique insight into how it feels to be a democratic citizen.

How voters feel

Based on a series of interviews with a variety of voters and non-voters, Coleman’s research attempts to understand what people think they are doing when they vote; how they feel before, during and after the act of voting; how performances of voting are framed by memories, narratives and dreams; and what it means to think of oneself as a person who does (or does not) vote. Rich in theory, this is a contribution to election studies that takes culture seriously.

The book has already received high praise from reviewers. Jeffrey Alexander, Lillian Chaveson Saden Professor of Sociology at Yale University, said,’Voting is laden with meaning and emotion, Coleman shows, or at least it should be. Building an empirical-cum-theoretical argument for voting as ‘social performance,’ Coleman lays down a forceful, deeply innovative challenge to conventional wisdom in contemporary political studies.’

Nick Couldry, Professor of Media and Communciations and Goldsmiths, Univerkisty of London, also enthusiastically endorsed Coleman’s work. ‘In this eloquent, original, and deeply thoughtful book, Stephen Coleman breaks open the black box of the voting process to uncover a paradoxical aspect of democratic experience that nonetheless remains at the heart of democracy’s transformative potential. Drawing on a wide range of literatures and Coleman’s own striking empirical data, this is a provocative and important book.’

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