The 4 Political Quadrants of the Political Compass
Many surveys and quizzes place people on two-dimensional political spectrums. The most popular is the Political Compass model.
This model places economic policies on one axis and social political identity on the other.
This type of model dates back to the French Revolution in 1789 when supporters of the king sat to his right and those supporting the revolution to his left.
The left political quadrant refers to those who support social change and equality. They believe that the government should play a large role in people’s lives to make this happen. This group is often called progressives. Those on the left also tend to favour a more regulated economy than the right.
This view is most common in Western societies. Those on the left usually support liberal economic policies like universal health care and higher education. They also favour green energy and increased tax breaks for low-income families.
There are many different ways to define the left political quadrant. In one popular model, it is a two-axis chart that compares ideologies on economic and social issues. The left-right axis corresponds to political views on the economic scale and the up-down axes represents the social scale.
Other models use multiple axes and more than just two quadrants. For example, the political compass, which measures political beliefs using key characteristics, has an axis on which it places views like pacifism (political violence should not be used) and militancy (violence is a legitimate tool for political activism). It also has axes that measure the focus of a person’s political interest (communitarianism) and the role of religion (clericalism vs. anti-clericalism). This model is sometimes used in memes to show a specific person’s position on the political spectrum.
Many people describe their political views using a left-right axis that places ideologies that prioritize equality on the left and those that prioritize various forms of hierarchy on the right. This tradition dates back to the French Revolution and has since become popular in Western cultures. While it has been criticized for lack of scientific rigor and for collapsing the full range of political positions into two axes, the traditional left/right model remains relevant.
One way of increasing the rigor of this approach is to add a second dimension that deals with social issues. For example, the political compass quiz (shown below) allows participants to indicate how much they agree with statements that deal with both economic and social questions.
The quiz shows that those on the left tend to agree with higher taxes for the rich, welfare for the poor, and government regulation (control) of business. Those on the right agree with free-market principles and believe that governments should not interfere with individuals’ rights to property ownership, freedom of speech and religion, etc. The left “libertarian” quadrant seems to be reserved for those who are socially liberal but take a more conservative position on economic issues. While the right “authoritarian” quadrant is reserved for those who are socially authoritarian but take a more conservative position on economic and social issues.
Many political philosophies can be characterized in terms of the center political quadrant, which includes moderates that neither embrace radical revolutionaries or reactionaries nor reject progressive change. In the US, centrists often align with the Democratic Party.
The left-right political spectrum is still relevant for most people, despite increased political polarization. For instance, polls such as the one conducted by Gallup put people on a two-dimensional graph of political ideas based on both social and economic issues, with Authoritarian-Left or Libertarian-Right axes representing extremes. Similar models have also been created by organizations such as the Political Compass, which is a popular online quiz that places legislators on a political compass chart with axes for both Left-Right and Left-Libertarian.
A more recent approach to categorizing political ideology has been the use of a four-quadrant model. A variation on this approach was first used to analyze the voting patterns of legislators, with the resulting two-dimensional political space corresponding to a traditional left-right axis as well as an axis for the left-libertarian and right-authoritarian quadrants. A number of online quizzes have attempted to place people on these two-dimensional charts, though the results of these analyses have been largely mixed and the scientific basis for these models is often questioned. Parodies of these graphs are frequently posted on the Internet, primarily as memes that satirize common stereotypes associated with the quadrants and the ideologies they represent.