Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Manuel Neumann
Do People like to Discuss Politics? A Study of Citizens' Political Talk Culture

European Political Science Review, 2023: 15, Heft 3, S. 373–392
ISSN: 1755-7739 (print), 1755-7747 (online)

As deliberative democracy is gaining practical momentum, the question arises whether citizens' attitudes toward everyday political talk are congruent with this `talk-centric' vision of democratic governance. Drawing on a unique survey we examine how German citizens view the practice of discussing politics in everyday life, and what determines these attitudes. We find that only a minority appreciates talking about politics. To explain these views, we combine Fishbein and Ajzen's Expectancy-Value Model of attitudes toward behaviors with perspectives from research on interpersonal communication. Individuals' interest in politics emerges as the only relevant political disposition for attitudes toward everyday political talk. Its impact is surpassed and conditioned by conflict orientations and other enduring psychological dispositions, as well as contextual circumstances like the closeness of social ties and the amount of disagreement experienced during conversations. The beneficial effect of political interest dwindles under adverse interpersonal conditions. The social dimension of everyday political talk thus appears to outweigh its political dimension.