S-Space College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학) Institute for Social Development and Policy Research (사회발전연구소) Development and Society Development and Society Vol.45 No.1/3 (2016)
Quality of Civil Society and Participatory Democracy in ISSP Countries
- Kim, Seokho
- Issue Date
- Institute for Social Development and Policy Research, Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
- Development and Society, Vol.45 No.1, pp. 113-150
- civility; political participation; voluntary association; political inequality; comparative analysis
- Although there has been considerable interest in the role of voluntary associations as main players of civil society in improving participatory democracy, few researchers have explored this relationship empirically and cross-nationally. This paper addresses two research questions: (a) Do consequences of voluntary associations for participatory democracy vary from country to country? For this question, I investigate whether associational membership strengthens, weakens, or leaves unchanged the effects of socioeconomic resources measured by educational attainment and family income on political participation. (b) Why do the cross-national variations in the role of voluntary associations as a political equalizer occur? I argue that political disparity between the privileged and the disadvantaged is more likely to be mitigated by voluntary associations in countries where civic resources such as civic virtue and social trust are facilitated via associational experiences than in countries where they are not. A comparison of 36 countries concerning the role of associationalism in achieving participatory democracy is made by analyzing the 2004 ISSP data. The results suggest that the effects of socioeconomic resources on political participation among members are better constrained in countries where civic resources are developed through associational activities. That is, political disparity between the privileged and the disadvantaged will be reduced by voluntary associations depending on their capacity to develop civic virtue and social trust.