Conventional participation: routine behavior that uses the established institutions of representative government, especially campaigning for candidates and voting in elections
Unconventional participation: relatively uncommon behavior that challenges or defies established institutions or the dominant culture
Unconventional participation (direct action):
Ex.: Rosa Park and the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama; Civil Rights movement; Protests against the Vietnam War
Different according to political systems and political cultures
Ex.: de Tocqueville was surprised of the disciplined character of Americans and their preference for conventional methods of expression. The French on the other hand seemed to favor unconventional methods to express dissatisfaction
Role of the individual
Individual participation is crucial to the functioning of democracies
In democracies, citizens are theoretically responsible for their future
Importance of civic spirit and political socialization
In the past, school and the military were often crucial instruments to ensure civic education and national cohesion in a country
Decline in voting (more people staying home during elections)
Decline of confidence in political institutions
Decline of trust in governments/elected officials
Declining trust in political parties
“those running in parties do not care about the public interest”
“People with power want to take advantage of the people”
“People are increasingly left out of the political process”
“The rich get richer and the poorer get poorer”
“What you think does not matter”
Increasing Demands of individuals in democracies Cannot be met by governments Lack of trust towards governments Perceptions that voting does not matter
Explanations for the civic malaise:
Rise of individualistic and materialist values
Rise of expectations
TV as a source of lack of interest in politics
More political corruption scandals revealed to the public
Are we moving towards a disaffection of democracies?
Does the decline in traditional political participation signifies that democracies are in crisis?
Democracies do not satisfy any more people as a form of government?
End of democracies and maybe return towards authoritarianism?
Not Necessarily (Pharr, Disaffected Democracies, What’s Troubling the Trilateral Countries -2000)
1) Voters are more informed than previously:
Rise of education higher standards
2) People’s interests are more diverse, hence leading to the emergence of single-issue politics (which issues are more difficult to be handled by political parties and their broad political platform)
3) TV as leading to a decrease in activism, social trust, and political participation?
“ the problem is not how much you watch TV but what you watch”
Some people actually can learn a lot politically from TV
4) Scandals on TV testifying that politicians are more corrupted than before?
Simply means that attention is brought onto corruption scandals because they are viewed as bad for democracy
Good thing :it becomes more difficult to be corrupted
MAYBE THERE IS NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY:
Contemporary developments as simply showing a revitalization of democracies, and not a threat to them
Old formalistic ways to participate replaced by new forms (rising importance of interest groups, local and neighborhood forms of representation, non-conventional representation…)
Adaptation of democracies to face the challenges of an ever-changing world