The Meaning of Democracy: Diverse Understandings of the Concept of Democracy in Poland and Other European Societies
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University of Warsaw
Submission date: 2020-09-05
Final revision date: 2020-12-01
Publication date: 2021-06-18
Polish Sociological Review 2021;214(2):145-162
This paper analyzes the way democracy is perceived and understood in Poland and other European societies. Citizens usually assess political systems from the perspective of their everyday experience. This experience is then reflected both in their expectations of democracy and in their evaluation of the system’s performance. The present article focuses on the conditioning of citizens’ commitment to democracy. Is the notion of democracy understood in the same way across Europe? Or, if it has some regional flavors, what are the key dimensions of the differences? Additional attention is paid to Poland, where a two-dimensional pattern of perceiving democracy is described. Each dimension is connected with a different level of important resources—economic, social, and cultural—and related to a separate set of values and expectations. The universality and specificity of the Central European perception of democracy is discussed. The analyses are based on the data of the European Values Study.
The research for this article was supported by a grant from the National Science Centre, Poland, project no. 2016/21//B/HS6/03199.
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