European Patterns of Participation: How Dissatisfaction Motivates Extra-Parliamentary Activities given the Right Institutional Conditions

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This article focuses on explaining the variation in extra-parliamentary activities, such as signing petitions, demonstrating, displaying badge stickers and boycotting products in 20 European Union (EU) countries. The main questions this article will deal with are: first, how feelings of dissatisfaction with the government and feelings of being member of a discriminated group affect the level of extra-parliamentary participation, and second, how different welfare regimes condition the extend to which these groups chose to act. In a comparative multilevel design, using data from the European Social Survey (ESS) Round 4 (2008), the article finds that satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the government is an important predictor alongside the institutional macro-level variable. The article combines a critical tradition, which suggests that political participation is motivated by a feeling of dissatisfaction with an institutional perspective in which certain institutional conditions are seen as enablers for citizens to actively participate in political life. Our results show that the overall level of extra-parliamentary activity in the Scandinavian countries is higher than in the other European welfare regimes and that the connection between dissatisfaction with the government and extra-parliamentary activity is stronger. The article concludes that the welfare state and the political system in the Scandinavian countries enable dissatisfied and discriminated groups of people to get engaged in extra-parliamentary activities to a greater extent than other EU countries.
TidsskriftComparative European Politics
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)151-174
StatusUdgivet - 2015

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