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Social and Political Citizenship in European Public Opinion: An Empirical Analysis of T.H. Marshall’s Concept of Social Rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2017


Normative democratic theory assumes that political systems should ensure civil, political and social rights, and this claim has become more salient since the economic crisis that began in 2008. This conception of citizenship was developed most prominently by T.H. Marshall (1950), and it has been further elaborated by numerous other authors, resulting in a clear division between procedural/electoral democracy concepts and authors emphasizing egalitarian concepts of democracy. We use latent class analysis to assess democratic ideals among European citizens as reported in the 2012 European Social Survey. The findings demonstrate that a majority of Europeans consider political and social rights as equally important, while some citizens predominantly emphasize either political or social rights. Furthermore, the focus on social rights is not limited to those with left-leaning ideologies. Considering current manifestations of discontent about the politics of austerity, we discuss the implications of social citizenship concepts for democratic legitimacy in Europe.

© The Author(s). Published by Government and Opposition Limited and Cambridge University Press 2017 

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Marc Hooghe is Professor of Political Science at the University of Leuven. Contact email:

Jennifer Oser is Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Contact email:


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