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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 7, 2020

Discontent as motivation: Why people engage with the democratic process

Katrin Praprotnik and Flooh Perlot
From the journal Human Affairs

Abstract

Despite the rich variety of entertainment in Western European countries, some people choose to spend their limited spare time participating in the democratic process. They not only go to the polls at election time, but also sign political petitions, take part in legal demonstrations, contact politicians and participate online. These people’s actions are relevant to their democratic systems so this paper aims to provide a better understanding of their participation. We present new evidence from a large-scale survey in Austria. In our analysis, we examine a new concept of feeling discontented, we focus on individuals’ perceptions of how society is developing in relation their own situation, and argue that these judgements drive their participation. We find that a feeling of discontent has a positive effect on participation, as do internal efficacy and social capital. However, discontented people with high levels of external efficacy tend to participate less.


1 We conducted this research as part of the Austrian Democracy Lab. The Austrian Democracy Lab (ADL) is a scientific project analyzing the state of democracy in Austria using different quantitative and qualitative instruments such as the mass survey democracy radar. The ADL is run by the Danube University of Krems and the Karl-Franzens University of Graz in cooperation with Forum Morgen. For detailed information, see www.austriandemocracylab.at.


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Published Online: 2020-08-07
Published in Print: 2020-07-28

© 2020 Institute for Research in Social Communication, Slovak Academy of Sciences

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