English title: Consequences of social inequality for democracy in Western Europe

Author(s): Armin Schäfer -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2012


Research on social inequality speaks of a major change in income inequality that has been taking place since the 1970s. At first, inequality in income distribution mainly occurred in Anglo-Saxon countries, but it has also been on the rise in Western Europe over the last decades. In light of this trend, we ask how inequality affects political participation and attitudes towards democracy. In our article, we first consider the increasing income inequality in OECD countries. We then analyze data from 17 Western European democracies from the European Social Survey. The analysis shows that an increase in unconventional forms of participation inhibits the ideal of political equality as these are more heavily biased towards the well-to-do than conventional forms of participation, particularly the act of voting. Third, we run a multilevel regression with survey data and a number of country-level variables to show that people are not only less satisfied with the way democracy works in countries with greater income inequality, but the citizens of these countries also trust politicians and parliaments less.

Volume: 6

Issue: 2

From page no: 23

To page no: 45

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1007/S12286-010-0086-6

Journal: Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft

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