Mass Beliefs and Democratic Institutions

Christian Welzel and Ronald Inglehart

in The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780199566020
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577482 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Political Science

Mass Beliefs and Democratic Institutions

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This article summarizes why political culture studies have been hesitant to analyze the aggregate effect of mass beliefs on democracy. It determines that this has much to do with the widespread assumption that the impact of mass beliefs on democracy can be inferred from individual-level findings. It also illustrates that this assumption actually represents an ‘individualistic fallacy’. It considers an argument that the impact of mass beliefs on democracy can only be analyzed at the aggregate level, because democracy only exists at this level. The article ends with a report of the findings from recent studies, which show that mass beliefs have indeed an aggregate effect on the emergence and survival of democracy.

Keywords: political culture studies; individual-level findings; mass beliefs; democracy; individualistic fallacy; aggregate level

Article.  7762 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics ; Political Behaviour

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