The decline of ethnic voting patterns in plural societies: Evidence from Suriname

Ruben Gowricharn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article addresses the largely neglected issue of the decline of ethnic cleavages in plural societies as expressed in voting behaviour. It argues that theoretically, Creolization, a specific form of acculturation, accounts for the erosion of ethnic bonding but finds that the application of the concept is limited. Hence, the article combines the current concept of Creolization with that of political hegemony, while broadening Creolization to comprise the acculturation of several ethnic groups. However, the paper considers that actual voting patterns may be countervailed by party characteristics and election campaigns. Using multiple fieldwork methods, the erosion of ethnic voting loyalties is analysed in a case study of Suriname, a Caribbean society that is representative of a class of plural societies. The paper centres on the conceptual apparatus to analyse the erosion of ethnic voting loyalties rather than making comparisons. It claims that its argument is applicable to plural societies that are characterized by the erosion of voting loyalties and decline of ethnic cleavages, notably Trinidad and to a lesser degree in Mauritius and Fiji, and increasingly in Suriname and Guyana.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-410
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date4 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • creolization
  • ethnic politics
  • hegemony
  • plural societies
  • voting

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