Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2006


Democratic Attitudes, Democratic Culture, Democratic Systems

Lecturer: Professor Chris Welzel,
Social Science Coordinator at
School of Humanities and Social Sciences,
International University Bremen, Germany

Main discipline: Political Science

Dates: 31 July - 4 August 2006
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 30 participants
 

Objectives
Which mass attitudes and value orientations are favorable to the emergence and florescence of democratic institutions? This question has inspired the political culture literature from the start. Recent failures to export democracy into societies that lack support of basic democratic ideals, such as tolerance and liberty, have intensified attention to the cultural basis of democratic institutions. The lecture deals with this topic in analyzing the attitudes and value orientations that are supposed to be conducive to democracy in the political culture literature. Existing theories are tested against available empirical evidence. Particular emphasis is placed on the causal relationship between democratic values and democratic systems: Is there a systematic relationship, and if yes, does it exist because democratic values are a cause or a consequence of democratic institutions? More specifically, the following topics will be addressed in the sequence of ten sessions:
 



Basic Reading

 

COURSE OUTLINE

Note: Items listed with * in the outline below will be printed in a booklet and sent to all participants in advance of the course.

Session 1: The Architecture of Value Systems
The session introduces major concepts describing the structure of human value systems in general.
 

Reading:
 


Session 2: Democratic Value Systems
The session deals with those particular values (or beliefs) that have been identified as the ones constituting a "democratic personality" as opposed to an authoritarian personality.
 

Reading:


Session 3: A Civic (Democratic) Culture
The session changes perspective from the individual-level to the societal-level. The question is now which value orientations must prevail in entire societies to make them ripe for the emergence and florescence of democracy.
 

Reading:
 


Session 4: Postmaterialist Value Change
The session introduces the concept of materialist vs. postmaterialist values, outlines the debate about the alleged rise of postmaterialist values in postindustrial societies and discusses its (possible) consequences for democratic systems.
 

Reading:
 


Session 5: Ideological De-Alignment and the Rational Public
The session deals with the thesis of a weakening of traditional party-voter alignments and the corresponding increase of rational elements in the voters' electoral choices. Implications of more recent findings for the functioning of contemporary democracies are discussed.

Reading:


Session 6: Decline in Political Confidence
The session presents recent evidence for a decline of confidence in political and other institutions among postindustrial societies and discusses the possible implications for the functioning of modern democracies.
 

Reading:


Session 7: Changes in Support for Democracy
The session introduces various concepts to measure support for democracy, shows recent trends in the development of support for democracy and discusses its implications for the legitimacy of democracy.
 

Reading:
 


Session 8: Declining or Shifting Social Capital?
One of the most hotly debated topics in recent years is whether social capital is declining or only changing its form among postindustrial societies. The session presents the contradicting positions and evaluates them in light of available evidence. The relevance of various forms of social capital for democracy are discussed.
 

Reading:
 

Session 9: Human Development and Emancipative Values
The session introduces the human development approach to cultural change and democratization, illuminating the social forces that are supposed to nurture emancipative values.
 

Reading:
 


Session 10: Emancipative Values and Democratic Systems
The final session illuminates the relation between emancipative values and other types of values and analyzes the relation between various types of values and the prevalence of democracy.
 

Reading:

 

The Lecturer
Chris Welzel is Professor of Political Science at School of Humanities and Social Sciences, International University, Bremen. He was a earlier a Research Fellow at the University of Mainz and a Visiting Professor at the University of Potsdam, and had several research stays at the University of Michigan. He received his doctorate from the University of Potsdam (1996) and his Habilitation in Political Science from the Free University of Berlin (2000). His publications cover the fields of value change, modernization, democratization, and democratic theory. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Values Surveys Association, the largest international survey project in the social sciences. Recent books include Fluchtpunkt Humanentwicklung: Über die Grundlagen der Demokratie und die Ursachen ihrer Ausbreitung (2002), and Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence, co-authored by Ronald Inglehart (2004).
 

Main page - Current Oslo Summer School Program