Researchers argue that political elites' ability to affect the beliefs and behaviours of their party is due to their ability to signal the partisan norms of the party. Partisan norms, a form of social norms, are behavioural rules that individuals believe are widely held by their partisan group, and that fellow partisans believe they ought to abide by or face social repercussions. Typically ignited by a Trendsetter, the process of normative change allows individuals in a group to become aware of and consciously evaluate their normative beliefs and the social expectations supporting a norm. Resultingly, this paper asks to what extent Canadian political party leaders act as trendsetters for partisan norms among partisan Canadians. An original survey experimental on partisan Canadians shows that Canadian Political Party Leaders, at least for Liberals and Bloc Quebecois, act as trendsetters on partisan norms to some degree or another.
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Thesis advisor: Pickup, Mark
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