Critical Citizens Revisited: The Impact of Policy Performance, Process Performance and Cultural Modernization on Democratic Orientations
Posted: 19 Jul 2010
Date Written: 2010
Despite the widespread popular assumption that economic hard times deepen citizen dissatisfaction with democracy, systematic evidence supporting this proposition remains scattered and piecemeal. To consider these issues, Part I of this study summarizes contemporary debates arising from alternative theories based on the impact of policy performance, process performance and cultural modernization on democratic orientations, including democratic satisfaction, democratic aspirations, and the net democratic deficit (the gap between aspirations and satisfaction), and outlines the core testable propositions flowing from each. Part II sets out the research design and the evidence drawing upon the fifth wave of the World Values Survey in more than fifty nations (2005-7). Multilevel regression models are used to test the cross-national evidence. Part III presents the key findings which emerge from the study. The results confirm process performance accounts; citizens are usually far happier with how democracy works in regimes which experts rate as democratic, stable, clean, effective, and governed by rule of law. By contrast, democratic satisfaction was more weakly predicted by policy performance, including most economic measures, and the evidence supporting cultural modernization theories proved more mixed and ambiguous. The conclusion considers the implications.
Keywords: democracy, systems support, economic performance, political culture
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation