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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Institutions, Contexts, and Citizens’ Judgments of their Democracy

Political Methodology
Political Sociology
Fred Cutler
University of British Columbia
Fred Cutler
University of British Columbia
Benjamin Nyblade
University of California, Los Angeles
Andrea Nuesser
University of British Columbia

We propose conceptual and empirical solutions to problems in Satisfaction with Democracy (SWD) research. They are: 1) an unproductive debate about the meaning of the SWD survey question; 2) inadequate acknowledgment that the SWD question is an individual-level attitude requiring individual-level theory grounded in political behaviour and psychology literatures; and 3) no study of SWD uses an appropriate statistical model where institutional and contextual factors only influence SWD through a complete set of individual-level determinants of satisfaction, and not alongside them.
We provide an encompassing theoretical model of institutional and individual determinants of SWD and estimate it using state-of-the-art multilevel mediation models (Preacher et al. 2010) on a merged dataset of ESS and country-level contextual data. Since there are many possible attitudinal mediators through which institutions affect SWD, the first step is theoretical: specifying these relationships from contextual factors through individual-level mediators, to the outcome of interest – SWD.

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