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Democratic Deficits

Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited

Pippa Norris

Cambridge University Press, Spring 2011



Synopsis

Many fear that democracies are suffering from a legitimacy crisis. Widespread concern has prompted reforms designed to restore the connection between citizens and the state. Yet initiatives will fail if symptoms have been misdiagnosed.

Part I develops the book’s central argument, focusing upon ‘democratic deficits’, reflecting how far the perceived democratic performance of any state diverges from public expectations.

Part II examines the symptoms by comparing system support in more than fifty societies worldwide. The autopsy challenges the pervasive claim that most established democracies have experienced a steadily rising tide of political disaffection during the third wave era. Instead confidence in government ebbs and flows during these decades – in the United States as well as in Western Europe. European satisfaction with democracy has grown in recent years. At the same time, in most societies, evaluations of how democracy performs lag behind public aspirations.

Part III diagnoses the reasons behind the democratic deficit using a model emphasizing the combination of demand (rising public aspirations for democracy); information (negative news); andsupply (the performance and structure of democratic regimes).

Why does this phenomenon matter? The prognosis in Part IV examines the consequences for citizenship, for governance, and ultimately for democratization. The conclusion summarizes the key lessons and reflects upon their broader implications.

This book provides fresh insights into major issues at the heart of the study of comparative politics, public opinion, political culture, political behavior, democratic governance, political psychology, political communications, public policymaking, comparative sociology, cross-national survey analysis, and the dynamics of the democratization process.

Contents

List of tables and figures
Preface and acknowledgments

I: Introduction

1. Democratic hopes and fears
2. The conceptual framework
3. Evidence and methods

II: Symptoms

4. Trends in system support in the U.S. and Western Europe
5. Comparing political support around the world
6. The democratic deficit

III: Diagnosis

7. Rising aspirations
8. Democratic knowledge
9. Negative news
10. Failing performance

IV: Prognosis

11. Consequences for citizenship, governance and democratization

V: Conclusions

12. Conclusions and implications

Technical Appendix A: Concepts and measures
Technical Appendix B: List of countries
Technical Appendix C: Methods

Endnotes
Select bibliography
Index
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