The Knowledge Gap in World Politics: Assessing the Sources of Citizen Awareness of the United Nations Security Council
Review of International Studies, Forthcoming
40 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2015
Date Written: September 22, 2015
The past decades have seen a significant expansion in the scope and authority of international organisations (IOs), raising questions about who participates and is represented in the public contestation of IOs. An important precondition for citizens to become critically involved in the public debate about an IO is that they are aware of the politics of that IO. This article sheds light on this largely unexplored issue, asking why some citizens are more aware of IOs than others. This question is examined in the context of a powerful international organization, the United Nations Security Council. A multilevel analysis of citizens in seventeen Asian and European countries suggests that citizen knowledge about the Council is shaped by citizens’ individual income, cosmopolitan identity, and income inequality. Higher levels of knowledge are found among the wealthier, and there is some evidence that income inequality depresses knowledge among poorer citizens. Furthermore, citizens identifying with groups or individuals across nation-state borders are more likely to be aware of the Council. The article sketches broader implications for the study of the politicization of IOs and citizen representation in the public contestation of IOs.
Keywords: Political knowledge, public opinion, politicization, international organizations, United Nations Security Council
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