States of freely associating citizens

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Citizens participate in many spheres of society: in informal networks of family and friends (social participation), in voluntary associations (civic participation), and politically (political participation). Yet, there are large differences across countries. Italians and Spaniards are more than twice as likely to visit their extended tamily on a weekly basis than Americans and Danes. In Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands more than 80% of the citizens are a member of at least one voluntary association; in Poland and Greece this is approximately 20%. And in some western countries election turnout is below 50%, whereas it is above 90% in others. What causes these differences? Why do citizens participate difterently in different countries?This book aims to explain these differences by studying state institutions as determinants of citizen participation. It offers a comprehensive overview and systematic test of different ways in which state institutions are related to social, civic, and political participation. Hypotheses are deduced from rivaling actor-centered institutionalist theories and tested on recent, high-quality cross-national data sets, using hierarchical modeling. These analyses show that state institutions do indeed matter. State institutions may stimulate social and civic participation by offering collective resources (like social security and civil rights), and may reduce participatory inequality within countries by redistributing individual resources (like time and money). State institutions may stimulate political participation by raising the incentives to participate through decisive elections and high political stakes. Finally, democratic rule stimulates the relationships between social, civic, and political participation: they are more strongly related in longstanding democraties than in newly established democracies.

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AuteurT.W. G. van der Meer
PublisherTom van der Meer
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