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Religion and Support for Democracy: A Cross-National Test of the Mediating Mechanisms

Abstract

Religion can be a source of undemocratic attitudes but also a contributor to democratic norms. This article argues that different dimensions of religiosity generate contrasting effects on democratic attitudes through different mechanisms. The private aspect of religious belief is associated with traditional and survival values, which in turn decrease both overt and intrinsic support for democracy. The communal aspect of religious social behaviour increases political interest and trust in institutions, which in turn typically lead to more support for democracy. Results from multilevel path analyses using data from fifty-four countries from Waves 4 and 5 of the World Values Survey suggest there is some regularity in mechanisms responsible for the effect of religiosity on democratic support that extend beyond religious denomination.

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Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (email: Pazit.BenNun@mail.huji.ac.il); Department of International Relations, Yasar University, respectively. Earlier drafts were presented at the 2009 MPSA and the 2011 Israeli Political Science Association conferences. The authors wish to thank these audiences and the Journal's editors and five anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. An online appendix with supplementary tables is available at http://www.journals.cambridge.org/jps.10.1017/S0007123412000427.

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13 Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson and Sanford, The Authoritarian Personality

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20 Schwartz Shalom and Huismans Sipke, ‘Value Priorities and Religiosity in Four Western Religions’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 58 (1995), 88107

21 Rokeach Milton, ‘Value Systems and Religion’, Review of Religious Research, 11 (1969), 223

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25 Jelen Ted G. and Wilcox Clyde eds, Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective: The One, the Few, and the Many (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

26 Putnam, Bowling Alone.

27 Neiheisel, Djupe and Sokhey, ‘Veni, Vidi, Disseri’.

28 The religious are a majority in the United States but each religious group is a minority.

29 Anderson Christopher J. and Guillory Christine A., ‘Political Institutions and Satisfaction With Democracy’, American Political Science Review, 91 (1997), 6681

30 Mishler William and Rose Richard, ‘Trust, Distrust and Skepticism: Popular Evaluations of Civil and Political Institutions in Post-Communist Societies’, Journal of Politics, 59 (1997), 418–51

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31 Klingemann Hans-Dieter, ‘Mapping Political Support in the 1990s: A Global Analysis’, in Pippa Norris, ed., Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Governance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)

32 Easton David, ‘A Re-Assessment of the Concept of Political Support’ British Journal of Political Science, 5 (1975), 435–57

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33 Inglehart Ronald, ‘How Strong is Mass Support for Democracy – And How Can We Measure it?’ Political Science and Politics, 36 (2003), 51–7

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34 Almond Gabriel A. and Verba Sidney, The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1963)

Easton, ‘A Re-Assessment of the Concept of Political Support’; Russell J. Dalton, ‘Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies’, in Norris, ed., Critical Citizens, pp. 57–77

Diamond, Developing Democracy; Michael Bratton, Robert Mattes and E. Gyimah-Boadi, Public Opinion, Democracy, and Market Reform in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

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35 Moreno Alejandro and Welzel Christian, ‘How Values Shape People's Views of Democracy: A Global Comparison’ (presented at the Mapping and Tracking Global Cultural Change Conference, Center for the Study of Democracy, University of Califortnia, Irvine, 2011, available at http://www.democracy.uci.edu/files/democracy/docs/conferences/2011/Moreno%20Welzel_Chapter.pdf, Accessed 13.08.2012

36 Inglehart, ‘How Strong is Mass Support for Democracy?’ Andreas Schedler and Rodolofo Sarsfield, ‘Democrats with Adjectives: Linking Direct and Indirect Measures of Democratic Support’, European Journal of Political Research, 46 (2007), 637–59

37 Schedler and Sarsfeld, ‘Democrats with Adjectives’.

38 Bratton and Mattes, ‘Support for Democracy in Africa’.

39 Moreno and Welzel, ‘How Values Shape People's Views of Democracy’; Norris, Democratic Deficit.

40 Klingemann, ‘Mapping Political Support in the 1990s’; Moreno and Welzel, ‘How Values Shape People's Views of Democracy’; Norris, Democratic Deficit.

41 Norris Pippa, ‘Institutional Explanations for Political Trust’, in Norris, ed., Critical Citizens, pp. 217–35

Qi Lingling and Shin Doh Chull, ‘How Mass Political Attitudes Affect Democratization: Exploring the Facilitating Role Critical Democrats Play in the Process’, International Political Science Review, 32 (2011), 245–62

42 Norris, Critical Citizens; Norris, Democratic Deficit; Welzel, ‘Are Levels of Democracy Affected by Mass Attitudes?’.

43 Kedourie Elie, Democracy and Arab Political Culture (London: Frank Cass, 1994)

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Bratton Michael, ‘Briefing: Islam, Democracy, and Public Opinion in Africa’, African Affairs, 102 (2003), 493501

Marsh Christopher, ‘Orthodox Christianity, Civil Society, and Russian Democracy’, Demokratizatsiya, 13 (2005), 449–62

44 Schwartz and Huismans, ‘Value Priorities and Religiosity in Four Western Religions’.

45 Schwartz and Huismans, ‘Value Priorities and Religiosity in Four Western Religions’.

46 Ben-Nun Bloom and Arikan, ‘A Two-Edged Sword’.

47 Saroglou, Delpierre, and Dernelle, ‘Values and Religiosity’.

48 Wald, Owen and Hill, ‘Churches as Political Communities’.

49 Ersin Kalaycioglu, ‘Islam, Secularism, and Democracy: Insights from Turkish Politics’ (paper presented at the 67th Annual Midwest Conference, Chicago, 2010).

50 Djupe and Gilbert, ‘The Resourceful Believer’; Ted G. Jelen and Marthe A. Chandler, ‘Communalism, Associationalism, and the Politics of Lifestyle’, Review of Religious Research, 38 (1996), 142–58

51 Kaplan David and Elliot Pamela R., ‘A Didactic Example of Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling Applicable to the Study of Organizations’, Structural Equation Modeling, 4 (1997), 124

52 See Meyer, Tope and Price, ‘Religion and Support for Democracy’.

53 Eighteen of the countries appear in both datasets: Argentina, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Moldova, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Ukraine and the United States. Additional countries included in Wave 4 are: Albania, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Tanzania, and Uganda. Additional countries included in Wave 5 are: Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Cyprus, Georgia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.

54 Dalton Russell J. and Ong Nhu-Ngoc T., ‘Authority Orientations and Democratic Attitudes: A Test of the Asian Values Hypothesis’, Japanese Journal of Political Science, 6 (2005), 121

55 Confirmatory factor analysis provides empirical support for operationalizing these items as two different factors. The fit indices of the pooled items are lower compared to the fit statistics obtained from CFA of the last three items, and thus support a two-dimensional structure.

56 Moreno and Welzel, ‘How Values Shape People's Views of Democracy’, p. 1; Norris, Democratic Deficit

57 Moreno and Welzel, ‘How Values Shape People's Views of Democracy’.

58 Hicks Loue E., ‘Some Properties of Ipsative, Normative and Forced-Choice Normative Measures’, Psychological Bulletin, 74 (1970), 167–84

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60 Vijver Fons J.R. Van de and Leung Kwok, Methods and Data Analysis for Cross-Cultural Research (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1997)

61 See Inglehart and Welzel, Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy, Appendix B. We removed one item from each of the original measures, due to redundancy with one of our other variables (importance of God in life was used in religious belief; trust is highly correlated with a key mediator). Our versions of the values measures correlate highly with the original measures (r = 0.93 for rational-traditional values; r = 0.90 for self-expression-survival values).

62 GDP–PPP: Gross domestic product at purchasing power parity.

63 Rex B. Kline, Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling, 2nd edn (New York: The Guilford Press, 2005)

64 Ben-Nun Bloom and Arikan, ‘A Two-Edged Sword’.

65 In the case of non-instrumental attitudes towards democracy (Model 1e), self-expression values have a positive effect while the effect of rational values is found to be null.

66 It seems that placing emphasis on material and physical security, but not traditionalism per se, is associated with a democratic understanding that deems bread and butter issues or redistribution as being essential to democracy.

67 MacKinnon David P. Fairchild Amanda J. and Fritz Matthew S., ‘Mediation Analysis’, Annual Review of Psychology, 58 (2007), 593614

68 Specifying and testing alternative path models does not necessarily indicate the correctness of the causal model but may at least provide a statistical basis for the evaluation of a theory-driven model with other alternative specifications. See Kline, Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling, p. 99.

69 Piaget Jean and Weil Anne-Marie, ‘The Development in Children of the Idea of Homeland and Relations with Other Countries’, International Social Science Bulletin, 3 (1951), 561–78

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70 Schwartz, ‘Universals in the Content and Structure of Values’.

71 Kline, Principles and Practice of Structural Equation Modeling, pp. 142–3

72 Unfortunately, the number of observations for Hindus and Jews (in both waves), as well as Buddhists (in Wave 4) were too low to produce reliable results with multilevel analysis.

73 McCargo Duncan, ‘Buddhism, Democracy, and Identity in Thailand’, Democratization, 11 (2004), 155–70

74 Stepan Alfred, ‘Religion, Democracy and the “Twin Tolerations”’, Journal of Democracy, 11 (2000), 3757

75 Still, because of the strong positive correlation between religious belief and social religious behavior, the extent to which the negative effect of belief will govern the positive effect of social religious behavior depends on the strength of individual's belief and frequency of participation. Thus, for the strongest believers (when belief = 1) the positive effect of behaviour is not strong enough to cancel out this negative effect even if the individual is a frequent participant (social behaviour = 1), but as belief weakens (when, say belief is 0.5), frequent participation may cancel out the negative effects that religiosity has on pro-democratic attitudes.

76 We would like to thank anonymous reviewer 1 for raising this point.

77 Catterberg Gabriela and Moreno Alejandro, ‘The Individual Bases of Political Trust: Trends in New and Established Democracies’, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 18 (2006), 3148

78 Almond and Verba, The Civic Culture; Adam Seligman, The Idea of Civil Society (New York: The Free Press, 1992)

79 Norris, Critical Citizens; Norris, Democratic Deficit.

80 Qi and Chull Shin, ‘How Mass Political Attitudes Affect Democratization’.

81 Juergensmeyer Mark, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)

82 Wald Kenneth D. and Wilcox Clyde, ‘Getting Religion: Has Political Science Rediscovered the Faith Factor?’ American Political Science Review, 100 (2006): 523–29

Künkler Mirjam and Leininger Julia, ‘The Multi-Faceted Role of Religious Actors in Democratization Processes: Empirical Evidence from Five Young Democracies’, Democratization, 16 (2009), 1058–92

* Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (email: ); Department of International Relations, Yasar University, respectively. Earlier drafts were presented at the 2009 MPSA and the 2011 Israeli Political Science Association conferences. The authors wish to thank these audiences and the Journal's editors and five anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. An online appendix with supplementary tables is available at http://www.journals.cambridge.org/jps.10.1017/S0007123412000427.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
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