The Resource Partisan, not ignorant : citizens' use of arguments and justifications in direct democracy, Céline Colombo

Partisan, not ignorant : citizens' use of arguments and justifications in direct democracy, Céline Colombo

Label
Partisan, not ignorant : citizens' use of arguments and justifications in direct democracy
Title
Partisan, not ignorant
Title remainder
citizens' use of arguments and justifications in direct democracy
Statement of responsibility
Céline Colombo
Creator
Contributor
Subject
Language
eng
Summary
A competent citizenry is the key to the legitimacy of direct democratic decisions, but just how competent are citizens in direct democracy? Understanding how citizens reason and how they make their decisions is ever more important as the use of direct democratic instruments is growing throughout the world. I propose a concept of citizen competence based on reason-giving. A competent citizen is one who bases his or her decisions on substantive, policy-related arguments, and who considers a diversity of arguments before taking a decision. In this thesis I use a multi-method approach, combining three different datasets to analyze citizen competence in direct democracy: cross-sectional post-ballot surveys from 34 popular votes in Switzerland; a panel dataset covering two referendum campaigns in Switzerland; and a lab experiment conducted in Scotland during the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. I found, that citizens have a surprisingly accurate knowledge of the policy-related arguments of the debate. Furthermore, arguments are significantly associated with vote intention, even when controlling for party preference. This first results highlight the importance of meaningful arguments in political opinion formation. However, a second finding of my project is that citizens tend to process arguments in a biased way, preferring arguments compatible with their prior beliefs and partisan attachments, and disregarding or devaluing incompatible information. Yet this tendency for directional, motivated reasoning can be discouraged by holding individuals accountable for their views, that is, by making them justify their position to others. The conclusions I draw for the legitimacy of direct democratic decisions are mixed. While citizens are not as uninformed and minimalist as they are often depicted in public opinion research, they are still partisan and find it difficult to process information impartially. Therefore, in order to enhance the legitimacy of direct democratic procedure, providing citizens with diverse and balanced information is necessary, but not sufficient. They need to encounter an environment where they are motivated to be accurate, for example, by being expected to justify themselves to others in cross-cutting discussions
Cataloging source
FIE
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Colombo, Céline
Date time place
Defence date: 3 May 2016
Dissertation note
Thesis (Ph. D.)--European University Institute (SPS), 2016.
Index
no index present
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
theses
http://library.link/vocab/relatedWorkOrContributorName
European University Institute
Series statement
  • EUI PhD theses.
  • EUI theses
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Direct democracy
  • Referendum
  • Direct democracy
  • Referendum
  • Political participation
Label
Partisan, not ignorant : citizens' use of arguments and justifications in direct democracy, Céline Colombo
Link
http://hdl.handle.net/1814/41045
Instantiates
Publication
Note
Examining Board: Professor Hanspeter Kriesi, European University Institute, Supervisor; Professor Alexander Trechsel, European University Institute, Co-Supervisor; Professor Diana Mutz, University of Pennsilvania; Professor Rune Slothuus, Aarhus University
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (p. 181-201)
Control code
FIEb1782879x
Dimensions
30 cm.
Extent
201 pages
Other physical details
illustrations
System control number
(OCoLC)1088465455
Label
Partisan, not ignorant : citizens' use of arguments and justifications in direct democracy, Céline Colombo
Link
http://hdl.handle.net/1814/41045
Publication
Note
Examining Board: Professor Hanspeter Kriesi, European University Institute, Supervisor; Professor Alexander Trechsel, European University Institute, Co-Supervisor; Professor Diana Mutz, University of Pennsilvania; Professor Rune Slothuus, Aarhus University
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (p. 181-201)
Control code
FIEb1782879x
Dimensions
30 cm.
Extent
201 pages
Other physical details
illustrations
System control number
(OCoLC)1088465455

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