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Participation, civic identity and democratic stability

Axel Dabitsch
FernUniversität in Hagen
Axel Dabitsch
FernUniversität in Hagen
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper wants to explore the causal relationship between effective participation, civic identity and democratic stability. Regarding the construction of national identities this topic is of special interest, as it raises the question, if effective participation rights have a positive impact on the development of civic nations. Based on the thesis that effective participation supports the identification with the democratic institutions of political systems this paper wants to present an analytical framework. Within this framework effective participation is of high importance for the development of civic nations which as a kind of collective identity enhance democratic stability. As a starting point a functional approach of citizenship is used as it still presents the legal basis for people to gain full access to civic and political rights in modern democracies. There are two functions of citizenship, which are of relevance to the analytical framework, as these affect the formal conditions of individual integration. Thus integration results from political and social inclusion through the individual use of civic and political rights. Using these participation rights builds the starting point for the development of a civic nation, as it supports the people’s identification with democratic institutions at the micro level. This causes the development of a civic identity which in turn leads to a civic nation at the macro level. Thus the relevance of effective participation is due the thesis, that the effect on the individual identification is stronger if participation rights are arranged in an effective way. As a result the elements of a civic nation dominate the collective identity, which supports the democratic stability of a political system. Moreover, the presented relationship shall be tested on a sample of Eastern European countries using World Value Survey data.