Introduction: The Growth of Critical Citizens?

Pippa Norris

in Critical Citizens

Published in print March 1999 | ISBN: 9780198295686
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600043 | DOI:
Introduction: The Growth of Critical Citizens?

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First highlights common themes that have emerged in the book: an emphasis that the concept of political support of government is multi‐dimensional; the existence of divergent trends in support for regime principles and institutions; and how to interpret the consequences of the various developments that can be seen. The book aims to steer a course between the crisis theories of democracy and over‐optimistic claims that ‘all's right with the world’. The book argues that there are genuine grounds for concern about public support for the core institutions of democratic government, both in established and newer democracies, but that all too often ‘crisis’ accounts are broad‐brush and exaggerated when the diagnosis needs to be careful, systematic, and precise. Reviews the literature on democratic crisis and stability, and briefly discusses the factors necessary for consistent and systematic comparison of trends, including the conceptual framework; suitable sources of survey data; the selection of time periods; the choice of countries; and the choice of appropriate measures. The major findings about global trends in support for democratic governance are then highlighted, and potential explanations for the dynamics of political support are suggested. The roadmap of the rest of the book is then summarized.

Keywords: established democracies; newer democracies; political trust; public opinion; support for democracy; systems support

Chapter.  11982 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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