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How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public

How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public

Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Staffan Kumlin and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen

Staffan Kumlin and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen bring together political scientists and sociologists from different and frequently separated research communities to examine policy feedback in European welfare states. In doing so, they offer a rich menu of different methodological approaches. The book demonstrates how long-term policy legacies and short-term policy change affect the public, but also shows that such processes are contingent on individual characteristics and political context.

Chapter 3: How welfare states shape participatory patterns

Jennifer Shore

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


In his latest book, On Political Equality, Robert Dahl (2006) argues that despite the advancements and spread of democracy, political equality has yet to be achieved. Political equality, roughly defined as equal opportunities and incentives for all citizens to engage in politics, is not only a desirable normative goal, but one that benefits democratic health. Although political equality is perhaps but an ideal, it is upon this ideal that democracy rests. Expressing itself across multiple dimensions of life, inequality can therefore endanger democracy, with recent studies providing an empirical basis for this claim (Acemoglu and Robinson 2006; Boix 2003; Dalton 2008). Not only is inequality bad for those at the bottom of the income distribution, but for democratic politics as well, as inequality affects ëthe choice of political regime, the selection of fiscal structures, partiesí mobilization strategies, and the decision to turn out to voteí(Beramendi and Anderson 2008, p. 5). In addition to the consequences of economic inequality for political equality, we must also consider what happens to future policy output when the input of participation is already skewed by inequality.

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