B1 Conditions of Democratic Governance: Behaviour and Orientations of Citizens

Orientations, expectations, and interests of individual citizens form the basis of democratic governance in modern democracies. Due to persistent societal processes of modernization (especially the increasing levels of education), individualisation and fragmentation, citizens have become increasingly reluctant to follow traditional norms or authorities.

Apart from this, available modes of involvement in democratic decision-making processes have changed rapidly due to the expansion of the repertoire for political participation beyond merely casting a vote. Examples are social media such as Twitter or Facebook, which facilitate the organisation of political protests. Although general societal developments are similar in many countries, from a comparative perspective it is clear that they do not simply result in a convergence of European political systems. Similarities and differences in orientations, expectations, and interests of individual citizens provide distinct opportunities for good governance—which seem to evolve differently in different countries. One challenge of research in this area is thus to develop more general explanations in situations in which differences are apparent on the individual level and to identify specific effects of contextual features.