The Meaning of Democracy and its Determinants

Hanspeter Kriesi (ed.), How Europeans View and Evaluate Democracy, Forthcoming

40 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2014 Last revised: 21 Aug 2014

See all articles by Besir Ceka

Besir Ceka

Davidson College

Pedro C. Magalhães

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon

Date Written: July 30, 2014

Abstract

What does "democracy" mean to people? Do different individuals hold different views about what democracy is or should be? What explains those differences? This article looks into these questions and gives an account of the sources and explanations of different understandings of democracy among Europeans. We advance a basic and simple argument. Individuals that came to acquire a privileged position in society have an interest in defending the political and institutional status quo. Since "democracy" can be understood in different ways, with some understandings closer and some further from that status quo, social status and social hierarchies help determine which version of democracy people come to endorse. In other words, people who enjoy privileged positions in society are more likely to espouse a conception of "democracy" consistent with the political status quo than individuals with lower social status. We rely on the 6th round of ESS surveys from 29 European countries using multilevel models in order to test the hypotheses that result from the main theoretical argument.

Keywords: meaning of democracy, liberal democracy, direct democracy, social justice

Suggested Citation

Ceka, Besir and Magalhães, Pedro C., The Meaning of Democracy and its Determinants (July 30, 2014). Hanspeter Kriesi (ed.), How Europeans View and Evaluate Democracy, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2474056 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2474056

Besir Ceka

Davidson College ( email )

Political Science Department
209 Ridge Road
Davidson, NC 28035
United States

Pedro C. Magalhães (Contact Author)

Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon ( email )

Av. Prof. Anibal de Bettencourt, 9
Lisbon, 1600-189
Portugal

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
167
rank
175,293
Abstract Views
950
PlumX Metrics