Public Support for Military Actions against Terrorism: The Effects of Age, Generations, and Political Orientations
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The Ohio State University
Polish Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2010-06-23
Polish Sociological Review 2010;170(2):171-190
This paper focuses on attitudes of Poles toward military interventions exercised by Polish troops in foreign countries. Specifically, we study the impact of age, generations, political biographies, and political orientations on mass support for military actions that have been framed in public debate and in the media as attempts to curtail or eliminate terrorism. Using data from the Polish Panel Study, POLPAN 2003–2008, we demonstrate that support for military actions depends on views on the political nature of terrorism, life experiences related to age/period, generational effects as defined by demographic cohorts and historical events, political biographies, and stances toward democracy and a market economy. These results are robust for 2003 and 2008. Although there is a significant decline of support for military actions through time, opinions expressed in 2003 strongly influence those expressed five years later. The longitudinal nature of our data allows us to show the effects of interactions of time-related variables on support for military actions in the most recent period, 2008. Effects of age on support for military action in 2008 depend on individuals’ stances on this issue in 2003, after the invasion of Iraq. Among those who were strong supporters of military action in the past, current support does not diminish with age. Among those who did not support military action in the past, however, current support quickly decreases with age.
This paper resulted from research supported by a grant from the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Data come from the Polish Panel Survey, POPLAN, financed by the (Polish) Committee for Scientific Research and the (Polish) Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Additional support was provided by the United States Information Agency, the (US) National Council of Eurasia and East European Research, and the Research Council of Norway. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at seminars at The Ohio State University and Polish Academy of Sciences. Authors wish to thank Tadeusz T. Krauze, Henryk Domański, Paweł Sztabiński, Franciszek Sztabiński, Krzysztof Zagórski, Irina Tomescu-Dubrow, and Małgorzata Mikucka for their involvement in various aspects of the project.
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