Deth (2006) - Vergleichende politische Partizipationsforschung

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Deth, Jan W. van (2006). Vergleichende Politische Partizipationsforschung. In Dirk Berg-Schlosser and Ferdinand Müller-Rommel (Eds.): Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft: ein einführendes Studienhandbuch. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, pp. 167–187.


  • what is political participation, how has it changed over the years, how to measure it and what have been main findings so far


  • literature review


  • widespread belief about inherent connection of political participation and democracy
    • "Any book about political participation is also a book about democracy" Parry et al 1992:3
    • "... the notion of political participation is at the center of the concept of the democratic state Kaase and Marsh 1979:28
    • "Where few take part in decisions there is little democracy; the more participation there is in decisions, the more democracy there is" Verba and Nie 1972:1
    • siehe auch Perikles 430v Chr.: good citizen does not only care about himself
  • subsequently adademic debates are concerned with the degree of participation, not whether it is necessary p 168
  • growing research interest since 1950s
    • in the early stages, mainly focused on elections
    • rapid expansion of domain of politics as well as repertoire of political participation
    • => problem of definition and delineation of pol. part.
  • defining pol. participation
    • "Politische Partiyipation kann lose als bürgerliche Beteiligung mit dem Ziel der Einflussnahme auf politische Entscheidungen definiert werden." p 169
    • see p 170 for a long list of different definitions
    • common to all definitions is p170-171
      • political participation is carried out by citizens, not politicans or other office holders
      • it is some form of activity - political interest or watching the news is not sufficient
      • its voluntary
      • can be aimed at everything connected to the whole political system
  • forms / repertoire of political participation
    • see figure 1 on p 173 (Baum!)
    • 1940s: mainly elections
    • since 1950s: conventional forms of pol. participation, ie. campaigns, parties, contacting politicians
    • since 1970s: unconventional forms such as protests, social movements
    • since 1990s: social engagement, civic participation, e.g. voluntary activities
  • detailed table that outlines what forms of pol. part have been asked for in surveys since 50s
    • usually distinguished in four areas:
      • elections
      • campaigns
      • contacting politicians also as a separate form of participation
      • protest activities (and new social movements)
      • (organised volunteer activities)
  • apart from expanding repertoire, also increasing permeation of politics into everyday life through
    • expansion of state regulation and responsibilities
    • increasing interdependence of social, economics and politics
    • blurring of public - private
  • comparative participation research
    • usually on micro-level (ie. citizens)
    • main findings (p.183pp)
      • level of participation is not very high, apart from elections only signature campaigns widespread (despite the enormous expansion of repertoire)
      • little signs for a decrease of pol. participation, rather stabilisation or even increase, in particular rise of political activismus
      • factors for pol part
        • situative elements (a campaign whatever)
        • individual resources (education, income, social standing): "Es sind eindeutig die höher gebildeten, den höheren Einkommensgruppen und höheren Schichten angehörigen (männlichen) Bürger, die überdurchschnittlich partizipieren" p 184 (quotes lots of studies here)
        • this holds also true for civic participation (quotes lots of studies here)
        • "Die empirische Partizipationsforschung hat immer wieder festgestellt, dass für alle Formen politischer Beteiligung eine selektive Rekrutierung der ressourcenstarken Teile der Bevölkerung erfolgt [...] Die Selektion betrifft allerdings nicht nur das Wählen, sondern insbesondere auch die wenig institutionalisierten Formen politischer Partizipation. [...] Diese Verletzung der demokratischen Grundregel der politischen Gleichheit führt zur Durchsetzung nichtrepräsentativer politischer Interessen und gefährdet auf Dauer die Lebenschancen der Demokratie." p 185
  • influence of ICTs
    • further blurring of political vs. non-political activity distinction
    • rather skeptic based on research so far