Hostname: page-component-6b989bf9dc-zrclq Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-12T23:58:09.030Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Personal or Impersonal Evaluations? Political Sophistication and Citizen Conceptions of the Democratic Process

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 December 2021

Lauri Rapeli*
Affiliation:
Social Science Research Institute, Åbo Akademi University, Åbo, Finland
Åsa von Schoultz
Affiliation:
Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
*
*Corresponding author. Email: lauri.rapeli@abo.fi

Abstract

An energetic scholarly debate discusses possible reforms of representative democracy. Some support participatory forms of democracy, others a more elite-driven or technocratic democracy. This study contributes to the growing literature on the subject by emphasizing political sophistication as a theoretically relevant predictor of attitudes to democracy: different models of democracy make different demands regarding the political sophistication of citizens. The analysis includes two dimensions and three measures of sophistication: personal sophistication measured as political knowledge and internal efficacy, and impersonal sophistication measured as assessment of others’ political competence. Using the 2011 Finnish National Election Study, we find that perceptions of the sophistication of others have a substantial impact on preferences for political decision-making, and that politically sophisticated people support representative democracy. The analysis shows that perceptions of others’ political competence, which has been largely neglected by previous research, is a both theoretically and empirically relevant predictor of preferences for political decision-making processes.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Government and Opposition Limited

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Anderson, C and Goodyear-Grant, E (2010) Why Are Highly Informed Citizens Sceptical of Referenda? Electoral Studies 29(2), 227238. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2009.12.004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Barber, B (1984) Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
Bengtsson, Å (2012) Citizens’ Perceptions of Political Processes: A Critical Evaluation of Preference Consistency and Survey Items. Revista Internacional de Sociologia 70(2), 4564. https://doi.org/10.3989/ris.2012.01.29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bengtsson, Å and Christensen, H (2016). Ideals and Actions: Do Citizens’ Patterns of Political Participation Correspond to Their Conceptions of Democracy? Government and Opposition 51(2), 234260. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/gov.2014.29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bengtsson, Å and Mattila, M (2009) Direct Democracy and Its Critics: Support for Direct Democracy and Stealth Democracy in Finland. West European Politics 32(5), 10311048. https://doi.org/10.1080/01402380903065256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bowler, S, Donovan, T and Karp, JA (2007) Preferences for Direct Citizen Participation in Affluent Democracies. Political Research Quarterly 60(3), 351362. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912907304108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Caramani, D (2017) Will vs Reason: The Populist and Technocratic Forms of Political Representation and Their Critique to Party Government. American Political Science Review 111(1), 5467. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055416000538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Christensen, HS and von Schoultz, Å (2018) Ideology and Deliberation: An Analysis of Public Support for Deliberative Practices in Finland. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 31(1), 178194. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edx022.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Christensen, HS, Karjalainen, M and Nurminen, L (2015) Does Crowdsourcing Legislation Increase Political Legitimacy? The Case of Avoin Ministeriö in Finland. Policy & Internet 7(1), 2545. https://doi.org/10.1002/poi3.80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Coffé, H and Michels, A (2014) Education and Support for Representative, Direct and Stealth Democracy. Electoral Studies 35(1), 111. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2014.03.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Craig, SC, Niemi, RG and Silver, GE (1990) Political Efficacy and Trust: A Report on the NES Pilot Study Items. Political Behavior 12(3), 289314. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cronin, T (1989) Direct Democracy: The Politics of Initiative, Referendum, and Recall. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dalton, RJ, Bürklin, W and Drummond, A (2001) Public Opinion and Direct Democracy. Journal of Democracy 12(4), 141153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Delli Carpini, MX and Keeter, S (1993) Measuring Political Knowledge: Putting First Things First. American Journal of Political Science 37(4), 11791206. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2111549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Delli Carpini, MX and Keeter, S (1996) What Americans Know about Politics and Why It Matters. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Donovan, T and Karp, JA (2006) Popular Support for Direct Democracy. Party Politics 12(5), 671688. https://doi.org/10.1177/1354068806066793.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dryzek, J (2000) Deliberative Democracy and Beyond: Liberals, Critics, Contestations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Elo, K and Rapeli, L (2010) Determinants of Political Knowledge: The Effects of Media on Knowledge and Information. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 20(1), 133146. https://doi.org/10.1080/17457280903450799.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eveland, W and Scheufele, D (2000) Connecting News Media Use with Gaps in Knowledge and Participation. Political Communication 17(3) 215237. https://doi.org/10.1080/105846000414250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Finkel, SE (1985) Reciprocal Effects of Participation and Political Efficacy: A Panel Analysis. American Journal of Political Science 29(4), 891913. https://doi.org/10.2307/2111186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Font, J, Wojcieszak, M and Navarro, C (2015) Participation, Representation and Expertise: Citizen Preferences for Political Decision-Making Processes. Political Studies 63(1), 153172. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9248.12191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gagnon, J-P (2010) Democratic Theory and Theoretical Physics. Taiwan Journal of Democracy 6(2), 122.Google Scholar
Gallego, A and Oberski, D (2012) Personality and Political Participation: The Mediation Hypothesis. Political Behavior 34(3), 425451. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-011-9168-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Galston, WA (2001) Political Knowledge, Political Engagement, and Civic Education. Annual Review of Political Science 4, 217234. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.4.1.217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Goldberg, S, Wyss, D and Bächtiger, A (2020) Deliberating or Thinking (Twice) about Democratic Preferences: What German Citizens Want from Democracy. Political Studies 68(2), 311331. https://doi.org/10.1177/0032321719843967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grönlund, K and Milner, H (2006) The Determinants of Political Knowledge in Comparative Perspective. Scandinavian Political Studies 29(4), 386406. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9477.2006.00157.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Grönlund, K, Setälä, M and Herne, K (2010) Deliberation and Civic Virtue: Lessons from a Citizen Deliberation Experiment. European Political Science Review 2(1), 95117. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1755773909990245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Held, D (2006) Models of Democracy, 3rd edn. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
Hibbing, JR and Theiss-Morse, E (2002) Stealth Democracy: Americans’ Beliefs about How Government Should Work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Inglehart, R and Welzel, C (2005) Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Jacobs, LR, Cook, FL and Delli Carpini, MX (2009) Talking Together: Public Deliberation and Political Participation in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kinder, DR and Kiewet, DR (1981) Sociotropic Politics: The American Case. British Journal of Political Science 11(2), 129161. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007123400002544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Koskimaa, V and Rapeli, L (2020) Fit to Govern? Comparing Citizen and Policy-Maker Perceptions of Deliberative Democratic Innovations. Policy & Politics 48(4), 637652. https://doi.org/10.1332/030557320X15870515357288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kuklinski, JH, Quirk, PJ, Jerit, J, Schwieder, D and Rich, RF (2000) Misinformation and the Currency of Democratic Citizenship. Journal of Politics 62(3), 790816. https://doi.org/10.1111/0022-3816.00033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lewis-Beck, M and Paldam, M (2000) Economic Voting: An Introduction. Electoral Studies 19(2), 113121. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0261-3794(99)00042-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mansbridge, J (1990) Beyond Self-Interest. Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
Mansbridge, J, Bohman, J, Chambers, S, Estlund, D, Føllesdal, A, Fung, A, Lafont, C, Manin, B and Martí, JL (2010) The Place of Self-Interest and the Role of Power in Deliberative Democracy. Journal of Political Philosophy 18(1), 64100. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9760.2009.00344.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mead, GH (1962[1934]) Mind, Self and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Phoenix Books.Google Scholar
Michels, A and de Graaf, L (2010) Examining Citizen Participation: Local Participatory Policy Making and Democracy. Local Government Studies 36(4) 477491. https://doi.org/10.1080/03003930.2010.494101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Morrell, ME (2003) Survey and Experimental Evidence for a Reliable and Valid Measure of Internal Political Efficacy. Public Opinion Quarterly 67(4) 589602. https://doi.org/10.1086/378965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mutz, D (1998) Impersonal Influence: How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Niemi, RG, Craig, SC and Mattei, F (1991) Measuring Internal Political Efficacy in the 1988 National Election Study. American Political Science Review 85(4), 14071413. https://doi.org/10.2307/1963953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pateman, C (1970) Participation and Democratic Theory. London: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reichert, F (2010) Political Competences and Political Participation. Journal of Social Science Education 9(4), 6381. https://doi.org/10.2390/jsse-v9-i4-1145.Google Scholar
Rosenberg, SW (2007) An Introduction: Theoretical Perspectives and Empirical Research on Deliberative Democracy. In Rosenberg, SW (ed.), Deliberation, Participation and Democracy: Can the People Govern?. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scarrow, SE (2001) Direct Democracy and Institutional Change: A Comparative Investigation. Comparative Political Studies 34(6), 651665. https://doi.org/10.1177/0010414001034006003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scarrow, SE (2004) Making Elections More Direct? Reducing the Role of Parties in Elections. In Cain, BE, Dalton, RJ and Scarrow, SE (eds), Democracy Transformed? Expanding Political Opportunities in Advanced Industrial Democracies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 4458.Google Scholar
Schumpeter, J (1942/1976) Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Shani, D (2009) On the Origins of Political Interest. PhD dissertation, Princeton University.Google Scholar
Smith, G (2009) Democratic Innovations: Designing Institutions for Citizen Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Thompson, DF (1970) The Democratic Citizen. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
van der Eijk, C and Rose, J (2015) Risky Business: Factor Analysis of Survey Data – Assessing the Probability of Incorrect Dimensionalisation. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0118900. https://doi.org/:1371/journal.pone.0118900.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van Deth, JW (1990) Interest in Politics. In Jennings, MK and van Deth, JW (eds), Continuities in Political Action. deGruyter Studies on North America Vol. 5. Berlin: deGruyter, pp. 275312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Verba, S, Schlozman, KL and Brady, HE (1995) Voice and Equality: Civic Volunteerism in American Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Webb, P (2013) Who Is Willing to Participate? Dissatisfied Democrats, Stealth Democrats and Populists in the United Kingdom. European Journal of Political Research 52(6), 747772. https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-6765.12021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar