Normative Attitudes about Inequality: Inequality, Democracy, and Political Participation at the Micro-level
Abstract: Current models linking national-level inequality and individual-level political participation operate via the mechanism of individual income. Using data from the European Values Surveys (2008-9) in 43 European states, we include individuals’ normative attitudes about inequality and find that all existing models fail to explain several forms of traditional and non-traditional political participation. In the case of non-traditional forms of political participation (i.e. boycotts, demonstrations, and strikes), normative attitudes are strongly – and independently – predictive. We argue that normative attitudes about inequality force us to confront two unconsidered aspects of inequality and participation. One, normative attitudes may better individualize inequality’s meaning to individuals, revealing individuals’ orientations to, thinking about, and thus likely responses to inequality. Two, as values, they may provide sufficient impetus for non-traditional forms of political participation that income – as an explanation – lacks.
Abstract: The 2014 British Election Study asked respondents to identify any change in income inequality in the UK over the past twenty years. Over three-quarters of the respondents correctly identified the increase (76.4%). Developing a comprehensive model of individuals’ perceptions of income inequality, we find that in the UK, as in the US (Bartels 2008), respondents with higher political knowledge and left-leaning ideological self-identification are more likely to identify the increase. However, controlling for normative orientations to income inequality, the positive effect of political knowledge is substantively weaker for respondents with strong negative normative orientations. Thus, while ideology may provide a broad organizing schema for individuals’ perceptions of income inequality, normative orientations appear to disrupt the role of political knowledge.
Understanding the Effect of Employment Insecurity on Political Engagement: A Pilot Study of Unemployed Youth in Italy (with Chiara Binelli)
Abstract: Using a pilot study on young university-degree holders in Italy (between 25-34 years old), we assess the effect of individuals expectations about job prospects on their political behaviors. To do so, we propose a new measure of perceived potential job insecurity and instability and link these to variation in political orientation; engagement; and attitudes. The results suggest that those with lower expectations about eventual job security and stability are more politically apathetic or tend toward more extreme political parties and participation. This bodes poorly for many European countries as the long-term effects of high levels of unemployment appear to be either demobilizing or polarizing.
European Union Politics
Left, Right, and Center: Inequality, Nationalism, and Party Performance in Europe (with James Downes)
Abstract: This paper investigates the stances and performance of 190 European parties in 27 countries in the last round of completed elections as the global economic crisis began to spread across European Union member states. Despite expected left and right-wing responses to the economic crisis, ‘winning’ parties appeared not to benefit from signaling their traditional issue positions and party appeals. Instead, the empirical findings show that, in the context of rising unemployment and migration, high saliency on the issues of nationalism and/or the politics of welfare as part of parties’ mass appeals – regardless of the position – was likely to reward parties electorally. Most significantly, incumbents were consistently held accountable by voters at the ballot box in national Parliamentary
Media Audiences and Individual Media Consumption after the Arab Spring: The Case of Egypt (with Nael Jebril)
Abstract: This paper examines both individuals’ media choices and the role of new media in countries in transition. Using original survey data from Egypt (2012), we find evidence of individuals using media to search for information following Egypt’s participation in the Arab Spring although different media satisfy this at local, regional, and international levels. There are two additional – if preliminary – implications for media use choices. First, media profiles for ‘new media’ users are the most distinct among all mediums and match profiles of participants in non-traditional forms of political participation, namely urban-living males with education and access to income. Second, in contrast to the technological determinism of some optimistic ‘new media’ supporters, in countries with low access levels to connectivity, a consideration of the shift from medium to user might facilitate our understanding of the role of both mass and new media in countries in transition.
Media Content Choices and Political Socialization during Democratization: Evidence from Eastern Europe
Abstract: Content differences in individuals’ media choices between entertainment and news imply that individuals use media for different purposes, namely, distraction or information. How does this affect the process of individual-level political socialization in countries in democratizing countries? Using surveys from the early transition period in five Central and Eastern European countries, we find that content choices suggest that individuals who choose (television) news and high content are more likely to have higher democratic political attitudes. Conversely, those who consume low content television demonstrate lower democratic political attitudes, albeit a weaker relationship. These findings potentially add to the empirical basis for an, as yet, elusive theory of mass media, democratization, and political socialization.
Political Socialization and the Emergence of Democratic Values: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe (with Matthew Placek)
Abstract: After more than twenty years, scholars are in a position to assess the competing explanations of democratic political socialization in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Here, we suggest that the two socialization explanations – the institutional and culturalist approaches – complement one another rather than compete. We argue that institutionally-related values (“institutional” values) develop early while values pertaining to citizenship and others in society (“cultural” values) develop later via the culturalist approach. Further, these develop in an interrelated manner clearest in countries where higher performing democratic institutions forge a civil space in which cultural values can better be developed. While preliminary, evidence coalesces from a wide range of data sources.
Vs. Them: Tolerance in the Context of Weak In-Group Identity: Are Atheists More Tolerant than the Religious? (with Charles Devellennes)
Abstract: Since the 17th century, central to the debate of what makes toleration a political – vs. generic social – virtue has been not only what is tolerable – but also who. We engage this question with the modern empirical literature which suggests that individuals’ tolerance of others is either a reflection of individually-held normative democratic values or, from social psychology, a function of varying degrees of in-/out-group identification. Using the cross-national World Values Surveys over the past 20 years, we examine whether the in-group identification of individuals’ religious orientations (religious, non-religious, atheistic) helps explain variation in individuals’ political tolerance. We find that, one, the non-religious and atheists are more tolerant than the self-identified religious but that, two, democratic longevity mitigates these differences within societies.