The relevance of social participation and intermediary associations for democracy has been at the centre of approaches to democratic politics since the nineteenth century. More recently the rise of new states in Central and Easter Europe and contemporary discussions about social conflict, civil society, communitarianism, and social capital have stimulated a revival of the subject. This study explores the changing role and functions of voluntary associations, intermediary organisations and other social movements in democratic societies. The contributors employ macro and mico-perspectives to examine the relationship between social and political involvement in the democratic process. The contributors use previously unpublished empirical data from countries such as Britain, Germany, France, Denmark, Belgium , Norway and Spain. They find the structure of voluntary associations and intermediary organisations throughout these countries has changed significantly and their membership levels and relevance to democratic decision-making have grown, pointing to a changing, but not declining, democratic culture in Western Europe.
Jaak Billiet (1942) is professor of social methodology at the Department of Sociology, Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and project leader of the University Center for Political Opinion Research which conducted the National Election Surveys in the Flemish part of Belgium.
Paul Dekker (1954) studied political science at the Catholic University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands) and at the Free University of Berlin, and got his Ph.D. at Utrecht University. He has published about planning and public administration, social and political attitudes, and participation in the Netherlands, often in a cross-national perspective. His present research at the Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Office focuses on environmental attitudes, the role of volunteering in civil society, and the comparative analysis of the nonprofit sector.
Peter Gundelach (1946) is professor of sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. He has written several books and articles on social movements, protest activity, voluntary associations and values. He is a member of the Belief in Government programme and the European Values Survey Group.
Grant Jordan (1948) has been a Professor of Politics at the University of Aberdeen since 1990. His most recent publications include: 'The British Adminstrative System' (1994); 'Engineers and Professional Self Regulation' (1992); 'Next Steps: Improving Management in Government?' (1995, edited with Barry O'Toole). He is currently working on the controversy involving Greenpeace and Shell over the non sinking of the Brent Spar in 1995. He has a general interest in pluralism, consultation and relations between interest groups and the bureaucracy.
Dominique Joye (1955) is senior researcher at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (Switzerland) and professeur remplacant at the University of Lausanne. His work is mainly in the field of urban studies, from the definition of urban area in Switzerland to the study of local government, including research on neighbourhood life and citizen participation.
Ruud Koopmans (1961) is a senior researcher at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB). He is the author of 'Democracy from Below. New Social Movements and the Political System in West Germany' (1995) and co-author of 'Tussen verbeelding en macht. 25 jaar nieuwe sociale bewegingen in Nederland' (1992) and 'New Social Movements in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis' (1995). His current research focusses on the politics of immigration and citizenship and its impact on extreme right and xenophobic mobilization in Western Europe, particularly in Germany.
Annie Laurent (1949) is a researcher in political science at the Centre de la Recherche Scientifique (CRAPS) at the University of Lille II (France). She is a lecturer at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Lille and director of the Lille Summer School since 1987. She has published studies on political behaviour and the relationship between territory and election.
Herman Lelieveldt (1967) studied political science at the University of Amsterdam and the University of North Texas (USA). He is currently a junior researcher at the Universitiy of Nijmegen (The Netherlands) where he is writing his dissertation on the relation between non-profit organizations and local government.
William A. Maloney (1963) is a lecturer in politics at the University of Aberdeen. He has published articles in several journals. His most recent book is 'Managing Policy Change in Britain' (1995, with J J Richardson). His main research interests are in public policy and interest group politics.
George Moyser (1945) is professor of political science and Director of European Studies, University of Vermont. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. His research interests include political participation and political elites. His publications include (with co-author Geraint Parry) 'Political Participation and Democracy in Britain' (1992), and 'Local Politics and Participation in Britain and France' (1990).
Jantine Oldersma (1944) studied political science at the University of Amsterdam and is assistant professor at the Department of Womens Studies of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Leyden University (The Netherlands). Her main interest is the study of women in political elites, particularly in the corporatist channel. She has also published articles on gender and popular literature, and gender and detective fiction.
Geraint Parry (1936) is the W.J.M. Mackenzie Professor of Government at the University of Manchester. He is author of 'Political Elites' and of 'John Locke', joint author of 'Political Participation and Democracy in Britain' and of 'Les citoyens et la politique locale'. Edited works include 'Democracy and Democratization' and 'Politics in an Interdependent World'. He is currently writing a history of political and educational thought.
Per Selle (1954) received his doctorate in comparative politics at the University of Bergen (Norway) in 1986. Since 1993 he has been a professor of comparative politcs at the University of Bergen and a senior researcher at The Norwegian Centre in Organization and Management. His research interests include voluntary organizations, political parties, political culture, and environmental politics.
Patrick Seyd (1940) is professor and Head of the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield. His publications include 'The Rise and Fall of the Labour Left' (1987); 'Labour's Grass Roots: The Politics of Party Membership' (1992); 'True Blues: The Politics of Conservative Party Membership' (1994). He is currently conducting research on the rise in Labour party membership.
Lars Torpe (1947) is Associate Professor at the University of Aalborg (Denmark).
Andries van den Broek (1958) graduated in political science at Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and in political philosophy at the Universtity of Hull (U.K.). He took his Ph.D. in sociology at Tilburg University, (The Netherlands). His dissertation contains a critical examination of theories about generations. At present, he is research-fellow at the Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Office, where he conducts time-budget research.
Jan W. van Deth (1950) is Professor of Political Science and International Comparative Social Research at the University of Mannheim and Head of Research Department II of the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research. He is author of a number of articles and books. His main research areas are political culture, social change, and comparative research methods. He is a Corresponding Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and Book Series Editor of the 'European Political Science Series' of the European Consortium for Political Research.
Bernhard Wessels (1955) is senior fellow at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (WZB). He has been the principal investigator of studies of German Bundestag members and candidates since 1988 and is currently working on a major cross-national survey of members of the European Parliament. He has published widely on interest intermediation and political representation, including 'Konfliktpotentiale and Konsensstrategien' (1989, ed. with Dietrich Herzog), 'Abgeordnete und Bürger' (1990, with Dietrich Herzog, Hilke Rebenstorf and Camilla Werner), 'Erosion des Wachstumsparadigmas: Neue Konfliktstrukturen im politischen System der Bundesrepublik?' (1991), 'Politische Klasse und politische Institutionen' (1991, ed. with Hans-Dieter Klingemann and Richard Stöss), and 'Parlament und Gesellschaft' (1993, ed. with Dietrich Herzog and Hilke Rebenstorf).
Paul F. Whiteley (1946) is professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield. His previous appointments have been at the University of Bristol, Virginia Technical University, the University of Arizona, and the College of William and Mary in Virginia. He is the author or co-author of several books and numerous academic articles on political economy, political parties, electoral behaviour, and public policy-making.