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Democracies in Crisis


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Democracies in Crisis

  2. 2. DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION <ul><li>Political participation: “those activities of citizens that attempt to influence the structure of government, the selection of government officials, or the policies of government.” </li></ul><ul><li>Seeks to influence political behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Voting as a crucial method of participation in democracies </li></ul><ul><li>Yet , not the only one </li></ul>
  3. 3. Political participation: <ul><li>Conventional participation Unconventional participation </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Conventional participation: routine behavior that uses the established institutions of representative government, especially campaigning for candidates and voting in elections </li></ul><ul><li>Unconventional participation: relatively uncommon behavior that challenges or defies established institutions or the dominant culture </li></ul>
  5. 5. Conventional participation: <ul><li>Voting </li></ul><ul><li>Debates </li></ul><ul><li>Signing petitions </li></ul>
  6. 6. Unconventional participation (direct action): <ul><li>Boycott </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrations </li></ul><ul><li>Strikes </li></ul><ul><li>Occupying buildings </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: Rosa Park and the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama; Civil Rights movement; Protests against the Vietnam War </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Different according to political systems and political cultures </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  8. 8. Role of the individual <ul><li>Individual participation is crucial to the functioning of democracies </li></ul><ul><li>In democracies, citizens are theoretically responsible for their future </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of civic spirit and political socialization </li></ul><ul><li>In the past, school and the military were often crucial instruments to ensure civic education and national cohesion in a country </li></ul>
  9. 9. Recent trends? <ul><li>Decline in voting (more people staying home during elections) </li></ul><ul><li>Decline of confidence in political institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Decline of trust in governments/elected officials </li></ul><ul><li>Declining trust in political parties </li></ul>
  10. 10. Reproaches: <ul><li>“those running in parties do not care about the public interest” </li></ul><ul><li>“People with power want to take advantage of the people” </li></ul><ul><li>“People are increasingly left out of the political process” </li></ul><ul><li>“The rich get richer and the poorer get poorer” </li></ul><ul><li>“What you think does not matter” </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>CIVIC MALAISE: </li></ul>Increasing Demands of individuals in democracies Cannot be met by governments Lack of trust towards governments Perceptions that voting does not matter
  12. 12. Explanations for the civic malaise: <ul><li>Rise of individualistic and materialist values </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of expectations </li></ul><ul><li>TV as a source of lack of interest in politics </li></ul><ul><li>More political corruption scandals revealed to the public </li></ul>
  13. 13. Are we moving towards a disaffection of democracies? <ul><li>Does the decline in traditional political participation signifies that democracies are in crisis? </li></ul><ul><li>Democracies do not satisfy any more people as a form of government? </li></ul><ul><li>End of democracies and maybe return towards authoritarianism? </li></ul>
  14. 14. Not Necessarily (Pharr, Disaffected Democracies, What’s Troubling the Trilateral Countries -2000) <ul><li>1) Voters are more informed than previously: </li></ul><ul><li>Rise of education higher standards </li></ul><ul><li> for evaluation </li></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>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) </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>3) TV as leading to a decrease in activism, social trust, and political participation? </li></ul><ul><li>“ the problem is not how much you watch TV but what you watch” </li></ul><ul><li>Some people actually can learn a lot politically from TV </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>4) Scandals on TV testifying that politicians are more corrupted than before? </li></ul><ul><li>Simply means that attention is brought onto corruption scandals because they are viewed as bad for democracy </li></ul><ul><li>Good thing :it becomes more difficult to be corrupted </li></ul>
  18. 18. MAYBE THERE IS NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE OF DEMOCRACY: <ul><li>Contemporary developments as simply showing a revitalization of democracies, and not a threat to them </li></ul><ul><li>Old formalistic ways to participate replaced by new forms (rising importance of interest groups, local and neighborhood forms of representation, non-conventional representation…) </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptation of democracies to face the challenges of an ever-changing world </li></ul>