Subjective Freedom of Speech: Why Do Citizens Think They Cannot Speak Freely?

64 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2022

See all articles by Jan Menzner

Jan Menzner

University of Mannheim Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences, Students

Richard Traunmüller

University of Mannheim - School of Social Sciences

Date Written: March 8, 2022

Abstract

We provide the first systematic research into the origins of subjective freedom of speech in Germany. Relying on the GLES 2021 Cross-Section Pre-Election Survey which includes a newly designed survey item on subjective freedom of speech, we evaluate a whole range of plausible candidate hypotheses. First, we contribute to cumulative research by testing the explanatory factors in Gibson (1993) – citizens’ social class, their political involvement and political preferences as well as their personality dispositions – for the German case. Second, we move beyond the state of the art and test three new hypotheses that reflect more recent political developments and arguments in the free speech debate: the role of social media, increasing political and social polarization and the rise of populism. Importantly, all hypothesis tests reported in this paper have been pre-registered prior to data collection. Our results reveal that three explanatory factors are significantly, consistently, and substantively related to subjective free speech in Germany: political preferences, populist attitudes, and identification with the AfD.

Keywords: Freedom of Speech, Self-Censorship, Political Behavior, German Political Culture

Suggested Citation

Menzner, Jan and Traunmüller, Richard, Subjective Freedom of Speech: Why Do Citizens Think They Cannot Speak Freely? (March 8, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4052854 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4052854

Jan Menzner

University of Mannheim Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences, Students ( email )

Mannheim
Germany

Richard Traunmüller (Contact Author)

University of Mannheim - School of Social Sciences ( email )

Germany

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