English title: Understanding of democracy in unified Germany. Is there convergence of democratic values between east and west through institutional learning?

Author(s): Benjamin Sack -

Language: English

Type: Conference paper/poster

Year: 2014


The stability of democratic political systems depends on the congruence of the actual institutional design and the normative model of democracy favoured by the public. In the late 1990s, research on political culture in Germany had shown that after 40 years of separation people were divided by different understandings of democracy. Given that political culture is primarily determined by political socialisation, I use the natural experiment of german reunification to analyze the democratic attitudes of the first generation completely socialised in unified Germany. Empirically I draw from the sixth round of the ESS covered in 2012, which provides a wide range of questions concerning the understanding of democracy. The results support the thesis that differences between people from East and West Germany are considerably smaller within the youngest generation. Surprisingly the convergence of attitudes is bidirectional: young Germans combine positions to a new unified understanding of democracy: while there is a convergence in the expected direction in a socialist model of democratic understanding, convergence in a liberal model runs against theoretical expectations.

Conference name: 5th ECPR (European Consortium for Political Research) Graduate Student Conference

Location: Innsbruck

Start date: Jun 3, 2014

Type: Paper

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