Institutions and Democratic Citizenship (Oxford Studies in Democratization)

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Across the region as a whole, the results indicate that the democratic cohort supports more democracy. However, when the analysis is done separately for each country, there is considerable variation, with several countries bucking the overall trend. Furthermore, Moreno and Lagos' results show that the cohorts that were socialized during earlier democratic periods the 'older democratic cohort' express greater support for democracy than those which have been socialized during the most recent democratic period the 'younger democratic cohort'.

One possible explanation for this is that the "older generations experienced periods of authoritarianism and are thus able to compare the inefficiencies of democracy with the horrors of a military regime. This 'aversion' argument suggests that greater support among older cohorts is due to the vivid, negative memories these generations have of authoritarianism, in contrast to younger cohorts who have never seen their civil and political rights threatened.

Older generations, who directly experienced acts of repression by military regimes, acquired an aversion to such regimes and, consequently, an appreciation for democracy. For younger cohorts, socialized under democracy, threats to civil and political rights are little more than historical record, which they have neither experienced personally nor witnessed. One lesson we can take from the studies already discussed, is that context exerts an important influence in shaping the attitudes of different generations. As we have seen, a plausible explanation for the greater support for democracy found among the older cohorts is precisely the fact that they experienced the privations of the previous regime.

This can be understood as a 'democratic legacy', as has traditionally been the case in the literature, or, as we shall propose here, as an 'authoritarian legacy'.

We highlight two essential characteristics that constitute a 'legacy': first, the duration of a given regime, i. Different political legacies, of course, produce different contexts in which citizens are socialized. For this reason, we believe that the generational effect is mediated by political legacy. Our hypothesis is a natural extension of Moreno and Lagos' line of analysis: if the experience of having lived under a regime that curtailed civil and political rights makes an individual more likely to support democracy, then the intensity of such support is likely to be associated with how long and to what extent those rights were denied.

Therefore, we expect the gap between generations to be more pronounced in contexts with a greater authoritarian legacy. In addition to this hypothesis, we tested the direct effects of the democratic legacy and, especially, the authoritarian legacy. The concept of the democratic legacy is already well established in the literature.

This suggests that democratic institutions, once implemented, produce environments that socialize citizens within the norms of the democratic system. Less obvious, however, is the effect of authoritarian legacy. Following the same line of reasoning, we might expect it to have the inverse effect of the democratic legacy.

In this case, the greater the authoritarian legacy of a country, the less adherence we would expect to see to recently implanted democratic regimes. In most countries, the sample consists of 1, interviews with respondents selected using probabilistic selection stratified across multiple stages. Canada, the United States, Belize, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica were excluded from the analysis, as they were not considered to belong to the region.

Bolivia and Venezuela were also excluded, because for these countries data was not available for some of the variables we included in our model. The first empirical challenge for the study was to construct a variable that would delineate different generations. Using this definition, it should be possible to define different 'generations' by reference to the key events they have experienced. In our study, the event in question is a wide-ranging and drawn-out phenomenon: a transition in the political regime.

As such, we compare two generational groups: one that socialized exclusively in a democratic political environment, and one that experienced two regimes, democratic and authoritarian. It is true that many countries have had more than one political transition in recent history, and that processes of transition are varied and complex. However, we believe that our classification captures what we consider to be of greater importance in the current study, namely the experience of having, at some point over the life course, lived under an authoritarian regime. From an operational point of view, the first step is to identify the 'cut-off point' that initiates the formative stage at which individuals are most susceptible to political learning.


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Jennings and Niemi , for example, estimate that between the ages of 16 and 17 individuals are more open to political learning. For Sears , this formation begins a little earlier, at 14 to 16 years of age. Mattes, Denemark and Niemi believe there is no 'magic number' that resolves this issue, but note that most studies point, on average, to 14 as a key age. Taking into account the range of ages identified in the literature and the need to establish a specific age, we chose the intermediate point of 15 as our cut-off for when political socialization begins.

Having established the point at which political socialization begins, the next step was to define the year of redemocratization for each Latin American country.

2 Democratic Regimes in Europe: Authoritarian Legacies and Models of Democracy

Once we had done this, we calculated which individuals were aged 14 or younger in the year their country redemocratized, meaning that they were fully socialized under the democratic regime; and which individuals were 15 or older and who therefore had some experience of the authoritarian regime during their formative years.

It is, therefore, a binary variable distinguishing between two generational groups: one that was socialized only under the democratic regime and one that had experience of both the democratic and the authoritarian regimes. Table 01 shows these years for each of the countries included in the study. The table also shows, for each country, the age that today demarcates the generation that was only socialized under the democratic regime from that which also experienced the authoritarian regime.

So, for example, in Brazil, redemocratization occurred in In , when the Americas Barometer was conducted, individuals aged 42 or more were those who were at least 15 in , meaning that they spent at least part of their formative stage under the authoritarian regime. Individuals aged 41 in were 14 in , and thus belong to the generation socialized exclusively under democracy. Two other concepts we use in our analysis are 'democratic legacy' and 'authoritarian legacy', as discussed in the previous section. The authors classified 19 Latin American countries, over the period from to , into three types: authoritarian, semi-democratic and democratic.

The authoritarian regimes received the score zero 0 , semi-democratic regimes a half point 0. The measure of a country's democratic legacy is therefore the sum of this score for the whole period — As such, the democratic legacy of a country will be greater when democracy has functioned for longer, and when it has worked better. The political legacy, however, is not restricted to the democratic legacy.

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Equally important for explaining individual attitudes, especially in relation to generational differences, is the authoritarian legacy. The authoritarian legacy, in turn, has received little attention. We believe, however, that it is relevant for precisely the same reasons: experiences of authoritarianism may create contexts that either favor or inhibit attitudes of support for democracy. These experiences also depend on their duration and nature, which, in the case of authoritarian experiences, are linked to the intensity with which civil and political rights are restricted.

However, this classification does not distinguish between more and less repressive authoritarian regimes.


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  • Under this measure, the closer the regime scored to , the more autocratic it was considered to be. In order to measure 'support for democracy', our dependent variable, we use a traditional question from the literature: "Now, moving on, with which of the following three sentences do you tend to agree with: For people like me, 1 There is no difference between a democratic or an undemocratic regime, or 2 Democracy is preferable to any other form of government, or 3 In some circumstances, an authoritarian government might be preferable to a democratic one".

    Table 02 shows the level of support for democracy among Latin Americans, presented as percentages. Columns one and two show the percentages for the generation that lived under the military regime and for the generation that has only lived under democracy, respectively, while column three shows the difference between the two generations. We also performed a chi-square test to verify whether these differences were statistically significant.

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    We note that in almost all countries, the group that experienced the authoritarian regime expresses greater support for democracy than that which was socialized exclusively under the democratic regime. In only three countries is this trend reversed, and of these exceptions only the case of Panama is statistically significant. Already, this result suggests that older generations that were socialized under the authoritarian regime are more likely to support the democratic regime.

    However, surely other variables also help to explain support for democracy.

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    It is therefore necessary to construct a multivariate explanatory model. The literature highlights the importance of socioeconomic variables in accounting for individual attitudes towards democracy. In addition to socioeconomic factors, other individual-level characteristics have also been highlighted. Interest in politics has, alongside education, been identified as one of the best predictors of an individual's political behavior, including democratic attitudes DALTON, , Finally, we add the individual's assessment of the country's economic situation.

    Studies have shown that adherence to democracy has 'instrumental' as well as 'intrinsic' motivations. As the democratic legacy and the authoritarian legacy are contextual variables, we estimate multilevel logistic models for the 17 Latin American countries. Our level 01 and 02 model assumes the following form:. In model 02, we include the interaction between generation and authoritarian legacy, and, in model 03, the interaction between generation and democratic legacy. Using this multilevel model, we were able to verify that the generational variable has positive and significant effect in both cases.

    At least in the context of Latin America, the decades of relative democratic stability experienced in most countries have not served to level out the attitudes of cohorts socialized at different times. Most interesting, however, is the direction of this effect: it is the oldest cohort, which experienced life under the authoritarian regime, that most supports democracy.