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The Meanings of Democracy among Mass Publics

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Abstract

In this paper, we illustrate that composite views about democracy vary significantly within and across national populations. Using World Values Survey data, we use latent class analysis to demonstrate that composite views of democracy display only modest consensus across country contexts. Although the features of procedural democracy are widely viewed as a cornerstone of democracy, their perceived importance and the way that they interact with substantive features varies considerably across and within democratic countries. These findings encourage caution when analyzing cross-national mass opinion about democracy. In particular, latent variable modeling using pooled survey data should pay careful attention to the unique permutations that democracy takes in the minds of citizens.

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Davis, N. T., Goidel, K., & Zhao, Y. (2020). The Meanings of Democracy among Mass Publics. Social Indicators Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-020-02517-2

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