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SPP 524

Title: THE ABSOLUTE AND INSTRUMENTAL LEGITIMACY OF DEMOCRACY
 
Author: Richard Rose and Bernhard Weßels
 
Description: This paper applies to democracy Max Weber’s classic theory of the instrumental legitimation of authority. It develops a model that takes into account the stimulus of institutional context and the influence on responses of individual perceptions of institutions, the experience of contacting public services and social predispositions. We test hypotheses with the 33 country Life in Transition survey of the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development. Because it covers undemocratic post Soviet states as well as established European democracies, we can take into account under what circumstances democracy is valued by some citizens in undemocratic countries and rejected by some citizens who live in democratic political systems. The multi level statistical analysis shows that the long term durability of democratic institutions has a major effect on individuals’ democratic values as does the perception of whether the performance of institutions matches democratic values. By contrast, the national economy is not influential. Frequent contact with public services is also significant, albeit modified by perceptions or experience of services being administered corruptly. Education rather than income is the chief social predisposition favouring democracy. The importance of the national context of institutions is a caution against expecting that institutional change will have the same effect worldwide.

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Postal Address:    CSPP Publications, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XQ, UK

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