Eroding Norms and Democratic Deconsolidation

Issue Date October 2017
Volume 28
Issue 4
Page Numbers 15-29
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Two recent papers in the Journal of Democracy highlight a disturbing erosion in public support for core democratic principles in a number of Western democracies over the past twenty years. The common assumption is that this trend reflects growing public dissatisfaction with the operation of the democratic system. This paper (focused on the United States and drawing upon World Values Survey data) rejects this interpretation and argues instead that the rise of antidemocratic opinion is more closely linked to shifting social and cultural values, in particular burgeoning antisocial attitudes. Disregard for democratic norms is part of a larger social transformation that has seen rising disengagement and alienation, particularly among younger generations and lower socioeconomic classes.

About the Author

Paul Howe is professor of political science at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, Canada. His essays have appeared in the International Political Science Review, the Journal of Common Market Studies, and the Canadian Journal of Political Science. His research focuses on evolving patterns of citizen engagement in politics, the subject of his book Citizens Adrift: The Democratic Disengagement of Young Canadians (2010).

View all work by Paul Howe