Robert Huckfeldt, Ikeda Ken'ichi, Franz Urban Pappi
Patterns of Disagreement in Democratic Politics: Comparing Germany, Japan, and the United States

American Journal of Political Science, 2005: 49, issue 3, p. 497-514
ISSN: 0092-5853

An important ingredient in democratic politics is the experience of disagreement through social communication and political discussion. If people fail to encounter contrary viewpoints, their own views are never challenged, they are never forced to reconsider initially held opinions, and they are effectively excluded from democratic deliberation. This paper examines patterns of political agreement and disagreement within the communication networks of citizens in Germany, Japan, and the United States. Several questions are addressed. Are there cross-national differences in patterns of agreement and disagreement among citizens? To what extent are these patterns subject to individual attitudes, to the structure of communication networks, and to levels of aggregate support for particular preferences and opinions? Finally, what are the implications of disagreement for civic capacity and political engagement? Empirical analyses are based on cooperative election surveys conducted in each country during the early 1990s.