ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Micro-Politics of Vote Banks in Karnataka

M N Srinivas coined the term "vote bank" in his 1955 essay, "The Social Structure of a Mysore Village". Today the term - rooted in obligation and reciprocity - is used throughout India by scholars, media personnel and political parties to refer to the exchange of benefits and favours to citizens in return for their political support. Vote banks in Karnataka are reviewed for similarities and differences between the 1955 definition and modern operations in Indian electoral politics. While the structure of vote banks remains largely unaltered, three changes in Indian politics have shaped the meaning of obligation and reciprocity in modern vote banks: the rise of party competition, changes in identity politics, and economic growth and reform.

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The Micro-Politics of Vote Banks in Karnataka

Mary E Breeding

M N Srinivas coined the term “vote bank” in his 1955 essay, “The Social Structure of a Mysore Village”. Today the term – rooted in obligation and reciprocity – is used throughout India by scholars, media personnel and political parties to refer to the exchange of benefits and favours to citizens in return for their political support. Vote banks in Karnataka are reviewed for similarities and differences between the 1955 definition and modern operations in Indian electoral politics. While the structure of vote banks remains largely unaltered, three changes in Indian politics have shaped the meaning of obligation and reciprocity in modern vote banks: the rise of party competition, changes in identity politics, and economic growth and reform.

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