Critical citizens
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Critical Citizens:

Global Support for Democratic Governance

Ed. Pippa Norris

Book published 1999 Oxford University Press  0198295685, paper, 320 pages $26  


This book analyses a series of interrelated questions. The first are diagnostic: how far are there legitimate grounds for concern about public support for democracy worldwide? Are trends towards growing cynicism evident in the United States evident in many established and newer democracies? The second concern is analytical: what are the main political, economic and cultural factors driving the dynamics of support for democratic government? The last are prescriptive: what are the consequences of this analysis and what are the implications for strengthening democratic governance?

A distinguished group of international scholars develop a global analysis of these issues analysing trends in established and newer democracies at the end of the 20th century. The book presents the first results of the 1995-7 World Values Study as well as drawing on an extensive range of comparative empirical evidence.

Challenging the conventional wisdom, this book concludes that accounts of a democratic 'crisis' are greatly exaggerated. By the mid-1990s, most citizens worldwide shared widespread aspirations to the ideals and principles of democratic government. At the same time there remains a marked gap between evaluations of the ideal and the practice of democracy. The public in many newer democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and in Latin America proved deeply critical of the performance of their governing regimes. And in many established democracies the 1980s saw a decline in public confidence in the core institutions of representative democracy including parliaments, the legal system and political parties. The study considers the causes and consequences of the development of critical citizens.

This book will prove invaluable for those interested in comparative politics, public opinion, and the dynamics of the democratisation process.


"Critical Citizens is a landmark comparative study of trends in attitudes toward nation, government regime, political institutions, and leaders, in some forty regionally well-distributed countries, bringing together the research of a cross-national team of social scientists, led by Pippa Norris of the Harvard Kennedy School. It is full of theoretically interesting insights, as well as findings that have an important bearing on public policy."-- Gabriel Almond, Stanford University

"The great democratic paradox of the 1990s is that it has simultaneously been the decade of democratisation and the decade of growing distrust of democratic institutions. This volume admirably dissects the complex and multidimensional background of these conflicting trends, and presents a judicious evaluation of the grounds for optimism and pessimism - in which, fortunately, the former prevails!" Arend Lijphart, Research Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego.

"Critical Citizens is the most comprehensive collection of comparative work on confidence in government and sources of public support for democracy. I strongly recommend it." Seymour Martin Lipset, George Mason  University.


 Foreword by Joseph S. Nye, Jr.

List of Figures and Tables
List of Contributors

1. Introduction: The Growth of Critical Citizens?
Pippa Norris

Section I: Cross-national Trends in Confidence in Governance

2. Mapping Political Support in the 1990s: A Global Analysis
Hans-Dieter Klingemann

3. Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies
Russell J. Dalton

4. Five Years after the Fall: Trajectories of Support for Democracy in Post-Communist Europe
William Mishler and Richard Rose

Section II: Testing Theories with Case-Studies
5. Down and Down we Go: Political Trust in Sweden
Sören Holmberg

6. Support for Democracy in Germany: East and West
Dieter Fuchs

7. Tensions between the Democratic Ideal and Reality: South Korea
Richard Rose, Doh C. Shin and Neil Munro

Section III: Explanations of Trends
8. The Impact of Social Trust on Political Support
Kenneth Newton

9. The Economic Performance of Governments
Ian McAllister

10.Political Performance and Institutional Confidence
Arthur Miller and Ola Listhaug

11.Political Institutions and Political Support
Pippa Norris

12.Postmodernization, Authority and Democracy
Ronald Inglehart

13.Conclusions: The Growth of Critical Citizens and its Consequences
Pippa Norris

Bibliography and Index


Copyright 2004 Pippa Norris, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138.

Last updated 12/06/2009