To what extent are democratic governments responsive to citizens’ demands and preferences between elections? Are governments more likely to be responsive to the interpretation of public opinion through surveys or to collective and publicly expressed opinion –generally in the form of protests? When does one ore the other type of expression prevail as a mechanism to foster governmental responsiveness? What happens when both forms of expression of the public mood are in clear contradiction? Are certain institutional and political configurations more likely to make governments more responsive to citizens’ views between elections? Are certain political configurations more conducive to governments paying attention to opinion polls while others make them more receptive to collective action claims-making? This project will answer these questions by developing a comparative study of of governmental responsiveness in established democracies between 1980 and 2010. To this purpose, we will discuss the relevant definitions of ‘governmental responsiveness’ and ‘public opinion’, and analyse data from various sources: (i) public opinion surveys, (ii) datasets with information on protest events, (iii) news reports on public moods, collective action, and governmental activity and decision-making, and (iv) comparative indicators on institutional attributes of democratic systems. In terms of the research strategy, the project will combine the analysis of a large number of cases (20 established democracies) with a more detailed study of a set of up to 7 cases. This study will provide a highly innovative approach to the representative link between citizens and governments by comparing the dynamics of democratic representation in decision-making junctures in the periods between elections for which governments cannot invoke an electoral mandate, with the dynamics that emerge in ‘normal’ policy-making situations. The project lies at the intersection of political science and sociology.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant