Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-018-0002-2 ORIGINAL PAPER One of a Kind, or All of One Kind? Groups of Political Participants and Their Distinctive Outlook on Society Eefje Steenvoorden Published online: 29 May 2018 The Author(s) 2018 Abstract Political participation can take shape in many Introduction types of participation, between which the overlap is low. However, the similarities and differences between various Political participation can take shape in many ways, from types of participants are surprisingly understudied. In this being a member of a political party, or demonstrating article, I propose to differentiate between four types of against policy proposals, organizing an activist-group event participants: institutional political participants, non-insti- or boycotting products. A consistent, but nonetheless tutional political participants, civic participants, and polit- striking ﬁnding, is that the overlap between types of par- ical consumers. These types differ from each other on two ticipation is weak to moderate (Dekker et al. 1997; Teorell dimensions: whether they are political or publicly oriented et al. 2007; Van der Meer 2009; Verba and Nie 1972). This and whether they are formally or informally organized. low overlap points to the relevance of understanding dif- Building on the matching hypothesis, I argue that we ferences among types of participants. It raises the question should differentiate those four types of participants by their to what extent participants in different forms of political outlook on society (societal pessimism, political trust, and participation are all of one kind, or instead different types social trust). Using data from the European Social Survey of people. 2006, including participants from 19 countries, logistic The question whether participants are the same types of regressions show that institutional political participants people is very relevant for several reasons. First, under- trust politics rather than people, non-institutional political standing the differences among groups of participants is participants are societal pessimists who trust other people, important with respect to the democratic function of par- civic participants are societal optimists who trust other ticipation. If different groups of citizens engage in different people, and political consumers are pessimists who do not types of participation, the voices of those groups are only trust politics. heard equally loud if all types of participation resonate to the same degree in the political arena, which is not the case Keywords Political participation Civic participation (Hooghe and Marien 2012). Second, the proposition that Societal pessimism Political trust Social trust participation levels are declining (Putnam 2000) is often countered by pointing to new, non-institutional forms of participation (Dalton 2008). If some forms of participation are declining while others are rising, it is essential to know what distinguishes participants in these types of participa- tion from each other. However, this question is understudied in the compre- hensive literature on participation, which has mainly & Eefje Steenvoorden focused on its causes. Many studies have examined the E.H.Steenvoorden@uva.nl factors at play in the case of speciﬁc types of participation, such as political consumerism (Stolle et al. 2005), online Department of Political Science, University of Amsterdam, participation (Oser et al. 2013), various types of civic Amsterdam, The Netherlands 123 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 741 participation (Badescu and Neller 2007; Van der Meer diverse. Some studies consider civic engagement and et al. 2009), or causes of a broadly deﬁned type such as examine all types of civic and political participation in the civic engagement (Pattie et al. 2003). Studies that do public domain (Brady et al. 1995; Pattie et al. 2003). Many compare various types of participants aim to test general focus on either political (Cohen et al. 2001; Scott and patterns, rather than differences between participants Acock 1979; Teorell et al. 2007; Vecchione and Caprara (Badescu and Neller 2007; Johann 2012), or focus on the 2009) or civic participation (Badescu and Neller 2007; Van variety of activities people engage in instead of differen- der Meer et al. 2009). Some focus on non-institutional tiating between activities (Amna˚ and Ekman 2014; Oser political participation such as consumer participation 2016). (Stolle et al. 2005), or the difference between online and This leaves the differences and similarities between ofﬂine participation (Oser et al. 2013). Some authors participants engaged in different ﬁelds of society under- compare between institutional and non-institutional politi- studied. This article aims to differentiate between four cal participation (Ekman and Amna˚ 2012; Hooghe and types of political participation, building on the typology Marien 2013; Sabucedo and Arce 1991), between indi- proposed by Van Deth (2014), and proposes two dimen- vidual and collective participation (Ekman and Amna sions on which these four types of participation differ: 2012; Pattie et al. 2003; Quintelier and Hooghe 2012; Van political vs public orientation and formal vs informal Deth 2012), or between types of disengagement and organizational structure. It examines to what extent insti- activity (Amna˚ and Ekman 2014; Oser 2016). tutional political participants, non-institutional political A consistent, striking ﬁnding is that the overlap between participants, civic participants, and political consumers are types of participation is weak to moderate (Verba and Nie the same kind of people. 1972; Dekker et al. 1997; Teorell et al. 2007; Van der Meer I propose to differentiate these types of participants by 2009). A mean correlation of .25 across thirteen types of moving beyond established factors in participation research participation indicates a ‘‘weak unitary model of partici- such as resources, interests, and efﬁcacy. Although these pation,’’ whereas within categories, the correlations are factors clearly explain why people participate, they are moderate but not high, except for different instances of likely to be high among all participants and unlikely to voting (Verba and Nie 1972: 58–59). These outcomes point differentiate between types of participants. Building on to the relevance of both categorizing types of participation insights from studies that propose the ‘‘matching hypoth- and understanding differences among types of participants. esis’’ (Clary et al. 1998; Clary and Snyder 1999; Granik The typology used here builds on the conceptualization 2005), I assume that people participate in an organization, and categorization of political participation of Van Deth movement or initiative that matches their societal outlook. (2014). After narrowing political participation to voluntary I expect three aspects of the societal outlook to differen- activities by citizens, he distinguishes four types of political tiate among participants: societal pessimism, political trust participation: (1) activities in the sphere of politics/gov- and social trust. ernment/the state, (2) activities targeted at the sphere of In what follows, I ﬁrst discuss the typology of partici- politics/government/the state, (3) activities aimed at solv- pation used in this article, the formal/informal and politi- ing collective or community problems, and (4) activities cal/public dimensions in which the four types of used to express political aims and intentions. I use these participation differ, and why societal outlook can be four types under the following common labels: (1) insti- expected to differentiate participants from each other. After tutional political participation, (2) non-institutional politi- discussing the choice of data and method, I present the cal participation, (3) civic participation and (4) political logistic regressions’ results and ﬁnally I turn to the con- consumerism. This typology of Van Deth (2014) stands out clusions and implications. in two ways. First, in contrast to other studies (e.g., Hooghe and Marien 2013; Marien et al. 2010), he distinguishes political consumerism from non-institutional political par- Theory ticipation, such as demonstrating and signing petitions. The rationale for this distinction is that boycotting products Types of Participation itself is not a political activity, but the intentions behind it (can) make it political. Still, the focus of this type of par- The comprehensive literature on civic engagement lacks ticipation is not necessarily the political realm, but can also consensus on both a deﬁnition of civic engagement or the be for instance producers and multinationals. Second, he less broad concept of political participation, and the types calls all these four types of participation political partici- of participation that these deﬁnitions encompass (Adler and pation, in contrast to authors that deﬁne participation Goggin 2005; Berger 2009; Van Deth 2014). Conse- belonging in the third category as civic and/or social quently, the typologies of participation used are also 123 742 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 Table 1 Two dimensions in types of political participation Main focus of actions Political Public Organizational structure Formal Institutional political participation Civic participation Informal Non-institutional political participation Political consumerism participation (Badescu and Neller 2007; Van der Meer and/or the government, while civic participation and et al. 2009). political consumerism as conceptualized above focus more I use the typology of Van Deth (2014) with one adap- broadly at society at large, including, but not ﬁrstly or tation, namely the meaning of civic participation. He mostly, the political domain. Second, the four types of deﬁnes this in a very broad way, including neighborhoods participation differ in organizational structure. It goes committees and street parties. Instead, I narrow civic par- without saying that institutional political participation takes ticipation here to activities that aim to improve society, place in a formal, organized group, namely political parties such as participation in interest groups and charity orga- and/or institutions. Also civic participation usually takes nizations. Events with a purely social character, such street place in an organizational setting. In comparison, both non- barbeques and leisure groups, I do not include, because I institutional political participation and political con- assume that the motivation to join these groups and or sumerism are rather informal, as they take place outside events is not (partly) related to aims of societal change. institutions and organizations and rely on ad hoc partici- Institutional political participation can be deﬁned as ‘‘all pation. Although, of course, actions can be initiated by acts directly related to the institutional process’’ (Hooghe more long-term action groups, people in protest types of participation such as demonstrations or signing petitions and Marien 2013: 133). Acts of non-institutional political participation can be characterized as attempts to inﬂuence can, but do not need to, commit to more than occasional the state or politics from outside the political system engagement. Political consumerism is even an individual (Hooghe and Marien 2013; Sabucedo and Arce 1991). act that occurs outside any organizational setting, although Building on the literature (Badescu and Neller 2007; Van people can be and/or feel part of a larger movement. In der Meer 2009; Van Deth 2014), civic participation in this contrast, institutional political participation and civic par- article refers to voluntary participation in organizations in ticipation take place in (more) formal organizations and the public domain but outside the institutional political demand more long-term commitment from the start. domain, which aim to contribute to a speciﬁc collective problem or a speciﬁc community. It includes interest Differentiating Participants by Their Outlook groups and activists groups, charitable organizations and on Society citizens’ initiatives (Badescu and Neller 2007; Van der Meer et al. 2009). Finally, political consumerism can be Surprisingly, the literature does not offer a clear expecta- deﬁned as ‘‘consumer choice of producers and products tion which characteristics can differentiate between par- based on political or ethical considerations, or both’’ (Stolle ticipants. The central focus of the literature has been not on et al. 2005: 246). which type of participation people engage in, but on These four types of participation all aim to improve explaining why people participate, yielding established society, but in different ways. Table 1 presents a two by factors of participation, such as resources (as in time, two table that presents two dimensions on which these four money, education, or income), political efﬁcacy, political types of participation differ: the extent to which the aims interest, social network, and incentives or motivations (e.g., are political or public and the extent to which the partici- Clary et al. 1998; Granik 2005; Pattie et al. 2004). pation is embedded in a formal organizational structure or However, individuals in different types of participation an informal one. First, institutional political participation are likely to score similarly on these established factors. and non-institutional political participation both aim to From the studies that compare various groups of partici- inﬂuence political actors, such as politicians, Parliament pants, it can be concluded that although the effect sizes of these factors may differ to some extent, the direction of the effects is the same (Badescu and Neller 2007; Hooghe and Electoral participation is not included for several reasons: (1) differences between electoral systems result in different types of vote Marien 2013; Johann 2012; Marien et al. 2010; Quintelier options (2) A protest vote as an alternative to abstention is determined and Hooghe 2012; Van der Meer et al. 2009; Van Deth by the presence of anti-system parties (3) voting is an atypical form of 2012). For instance, people involved in boycotting are not participation, because it is it is explicitly requested by the state, and it distinct from the other types of participants under study requires little time and effort. 123 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 743 (Van Deth 2012). Two studies on types of civic participants Patterns of Societal Pessimism, Political Trust, also show no diverging patterns in the characteristics and Social Trust Among Participants studied (namely, education, employment, size of locality, network, social trust, church attendance and civic duty), How do the three attitudes differentiate among the four types of participants? Many studies on participation only a smaller or larger inﬂuence of the characteristics considered (Badescu and Neller 2007), or only a difference include political or social trust, or they focus on a speciﬁc type of participation, rather than comparing multiple in source of income but not in educational level, income level or political interest (Van der Meer et al. 2009). It is groups (Allum et al. 2010; Hooghe and Marien 2013; Kaase 1999; Stolle et al. 2005; Suh et al. 2013). Below, I likely that the similarity of the effects of the established factors lies in similar mechanisms driving them (Bekkers theorize why societal pessimism, political trust, and social and Wiepking 2011). Two exceptions are demographic trust are likely to differentiate the four types of participants characteristics, namely age and gender. Younger people from each other. (\ 45 years) and women tend to be more often active in The few studies on societal pessimism show that a large non-institutionalized political participation, while men and part of the citizenry in advanced western democracies can older citizens instead are more often involved in institu- be described as pessimistic about society (European Commission 2013; Gallup 2014; Steenvoorden and Van tionalized political participation (Hooghe and Marien 2013; Stolle and Hooghe 2011). der Meer 2017). Societal pessimism can be deﬁned as a sentiment among citizens that their society is in decline and In contrast to the established factors, on which groups of participants often score similarly, several studies indicate refers to a sense of unmanageable deterioration of society that social attitudes do differentiate between types of par- and collective powerlessness to stop that deterioration ticipants (e.g., Hooghe and Marien 2013; Stolle and (Steenvoorden 2015). Other related concepts are cultural Hooghe 2011). Building on those insights, this article pessimism (Bennett 2001), social actualization, the ‘‘eval- suggests to focus on the societal outlook in order to dis- uation of the potential and trajectory of society’’ (Keyes tinguish groups of participants. It is likely that people 1998: 122), and optimism, ‘‘a view that the future will be participate in an organization, group or movement of better than the past and the belief that we can control our people who ‘‘think like them,’’ i.e., who have the same environment so as to make it better’’ (Uslaner 2002: 81). To my knowledge, the only previous study on societal worldview. Clary and Snyder propose the ‘‘matching hypothesis,’’ which states that participation results from pessimism and participation is that of Uslaner and Brown (2005), who ﬁnd a negative relationship between societal congruence between individual and organizational values (Clary et al. 1998; Clary and Snyder 1999; Granik 2005). optimism and political institutional, political non-institu- tional and civic participation, but their aggregated, state- They show that indeed values, namely: ‘‘I feel compassion toward people in need,’’ ‘‘I feel it is important to help level data from the USA do not inform us on the individ- others,’’ ‘‘I can do something for a cause that is important ual-level relations in which I am interested here. to me’’ matter in distinguishing non-participants from If people perceive unmanageable societal deterioration, participants, but they conclude the article by stating that it and collective powerlessness to stop the decline, it is is likely that different types of participation differ in unlikely that they expect improvement in our conditions speciﬁc motivations, and that this asks for further study can easily be made. I expect societal pessimism to indicate whether people believe change is possible within institu- (Clary et al. 1998). Building on this, I theorize that values, such as how important it is to people to contribute to tions or organizations (political and non-political), or whether they instead do not expect that change can be society and/or other people might explain who participates, and that more speciﬁc views, namely attitudes, explain (easily) established and are primarily interested in which type of participation people engage in. expressing their discontent through protest. This means that Before discussing the attitudes that I expect to differ- I think that societal pessimism distinguishes between entiate between participants and why, I want to stress that institutional political participation and civic participation, the causality of the association between attitudes and par- on the one hand, and non-institutional political participa- ticipation is not addressed here. My aim is to differentiate tion and political consumerism, on the other hand. Given the overlap in types of participation it is theo- types of participants from each other, and not to examine whether the differentiation took place before or because of retically—and, as I will show, empirically—unjust to people’s participation. In contrast to common usage of powerlessness, referring to individuals who feel powerless to do something, collective power- lessness does not refer to one’s own possibilities to make changes, but distrust in society’s capacity to make changes. 123 744 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 formulate hypotheses on mutually exclusive groups. yourself mentality (1997). Therefore, I expect civic par- Moreover, differentiating between all possible combina- ticipants to be political distrustful compared to other par- tions of participation would give us no theoretical grounds ticipants. With regard to political trust, I formulate the to build the expectations on. Therefore, I use hypotheses following hypotheses: that describe the relationships between attitudes and types H5: political trust is positively related to institutional of participation, not comparisons of types of participation. political participation H1: societal pessimism is negatively related to institu- H6: political trust is negatively related to non-institu- tional political participation tional political participation H2: societal pessimism is positively related to non- H7: political trust is negatively related to civic institutional political participation participation H3: societal pessimism is negatively related to civic H8: political trust is negatively related to political participation consumerism H4: societal pessimism is positively related to political Two streams of literature suggest different conceptual- consumerism izations of social trust, namely strategic trust (based on Both political trust and social trust can be expected to one’s interests), which follows a rational choice logic offer insight into whether people want to participate within (Hardin 2002), and generalized trust (based on an outlook or outside the political institutional domain. Starting with on human nature), which sees trust as resulting from cul- political trust, we have to differentiate between trust in the ture and socialization (Uslaner 2002). Following the liter- political community, the political regime (performance and ature on participation, I focus on generalized social trust. institutions), and the political authorities or incumbents This can be deﬁned as ‘‘the idea that most people can be (Easton 1975; Norris 2011). Here, I focus on trust in the trusted’’ (Uslaner 2002: 5) and is based on ‘‘the perception political regime and political authorities: It is likely that that most people are part of your moral community’’ (Us- people engage in participation because they are either laner 2002: 26). dissatisﬁed or inspired by the political leaders and political Although cause and consequence are debated, social institutions in their country, and not so much the political trust, as a form of social capital, is seen as one of the merits community. One applicable deﬁnition of political trust is of social and civic involvement (Putnam 1993, 2000). It that it is ‘‘the probability … that the political system (or stimulates and results from participation in organizations, some part of it) will produce preferred outcomes even if actions, or initiatives of that community and thereby left unattended’’ (Gamson 1968: 54). overcomes collective action problems in producing public Research that compares participants to the general goods (for an overview of the literature, see Van Deth population demonstrates that participants’ levels of politi- 2001). Many studies that compare participants to the gen- cal trust vary. Political trust is found to be positively eral population show that social trust is positively related to related to institutional political participation but negatively civic participation (e.g., Badescu and Neller 2007; Dekker related to non-institutional political participation (Barnes et al. 1997; Uslaner and Brown 2005). ´ ´ ´ and Kaase 1979; Hooghe and Marien 2013; Vrablıkova In the case of non-institutional political participation 2013) and political consumerism (Newman and Bartels and political consumerism, social trust can overcome col- 2011; Stolle et al. 2005). Intuitively, this makes sense: lective action problems. Social trust can be expected to Why would one engage in a political party if one does not have a positive effect because ‘‘the threshold for political trust political parties, politicians, or the political system? action for trusting individuals should be lower than for Conversely, if you distrust political institutions and non-trusting individuals because the former have more authorities, it is likely that you express your dissatisfaction generous estimates of the number of people who will join or frustration with how things are going or decisions made them in protest’’ (Benson and Rochon 2004: 438). This outside the political setting, thus in non-institutional increases the perceived likeliness that a protest will have political participation and/or political consumerism. results; if many people join, it is more likely to have Therefore, I follow this logic in comparing participants consequences. The positive relationship between social only. trust and non-institutional political participation is indeed To my knowledge, the relationship between political underlined by many studies (Benson and Rochon 2004; trust and civic participation is only sporadically discussed Hooghe and Marien 2013; Kaase 1999). In the case of in the literature. The few available studies show that people political consumerism, previous studies ﬁnd no relationship involved in civic participation are politically distrustful with social trust (Pattie et al. 2003; Stolle et al. 2005). This (Brehm and Rahn 1997; Eliasoph 1998). Brehm and Rahn could be due to the fact that it is a more individualistic type theorize that this negative relationship follows from a do-it- of participation than non-institutional political 123 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 745 Table 2 Summary of hypotheses Institutional political participation Non-institutional political participation Civic participation Political consumerism Societal pessimism-? - ? Political trust?- - - Social trust -? ? ? participation. Nevertheless, it can be expected that people not/partially free on the Freedom House index which may boy/buycott certain products with the idea that they are not affect political participation, and Estonia and Hungary the only ones, and that they expect more people to do so. because in these countries level of income is not measured. In contrast, institutional political participation is not per The four types of participation are measured by one or se driven by membership in a generalized community; several items on speciﬁc forms of participation: A yes on instead, it is driven by political camps that have very dif- one of the items establishes a yes on being such a type of ferent ideas and values about what should be done. ‘‘The participant. A general introduction preceded eight out of spirit of cooperation that underlies generalized trust is the nine items: ‘‘There are different ways of trying to absent in political activity, which reinforces particularized improve things in [country] or help prevent things from trust [trust in your own group] at the expense of general- going wrong. During the last 12 months, have you done ized trust’’ (Uslaner and Brown 2005: 875). Therefore, any of the following:’’ The exception is one item on civic several authors expect and ﬁnd a negative association participation, ‘‘Involved in work for voluntary or charita- between social (generalized) trust and institutional political ble organization’’. The operationalizations are presented in participation compared to the general population (Hooghe Table 3, as well as the percentage of respondents involved and Marien 2013; Kim 2005; Pattie et al. 2003; Uslaner (including non-participants). All of the items are dummies and Brown 2005). In this article, I follow the result of these (did/did not participate in the last 12 months), except for studies on the whole population in formulating hypothesis the last item on civic participation, which is recoded to 0 about participants only. Table 2 provides an overview of (never) or 1 (ranging from at least every 6 months to at all of the hypotheses posited in this article. least every week). Respondents with missing values on any of the nine items are excluded from the regression analy- H9: social trust is negatively related to institutional ses, because they cannot be placed into a group of partic- political participation ipants. Among the participants, this applies to 293 H10: social trust is positively related to non-institutional respondents, resulting in a ﬁnal number of 15,321 political participation respondents. Table 3 shows that civic participation (43%) H11: social trust is positively related to civic is relatively popular compared to institutional political participation participation (23%), non-institutional political participation H12: social trust is positively related to political (27%), and political consumerism (17%). It also tells us consumerism that 38% of respondents do not participate in any form of participation measured here. Table 4 shows the percentages of all possible partici- Data and Method pation combinations, from which follows that half (49%) of all participants engage in only one type of political par- Data ticipation, 28% of respondents is involved in two types of participation, 16% in three types, and 6% in all four types. To test the hypotheses, I use the European Social Survey We can conclude on the one hand that the largest group of from 2006 (wave 3), which includes variables on not only participants engages in one type of participation, as sug- all four types of participation and the three attitudes under gested in the literature (Keeter et al. 2002; Verba and Nie study, but also on many of the established factors of 1972). On the other hand, the overlap indicates that we political participation. I included data on individuals cannot view these types of participants as entirely different 18 years and older from 19 European countries in the people. Therefore, I control for this overlap in the analyses, analyses. I excluded Russia and Ukraine because they score which I clarify in the next section. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Cyprus, Germany, Den- mark, Spain, Finland, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands, https://www.freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-world#. Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, and Slovakia. VJBZ83trVkh. 123 746 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 Table 3 Measures of types of political participation (in %). Source: European Social Survey 2006 No Yes Institutional political participation 77 23 Member of political party 95 6 Contacted politician or government ofﬁcial 85 15 Worked in political party or action group 96 4 Worn or displayed campaign badge/sticker 92 8 Non-institutional political participation 68 27 Signed petition 76 25 Taken part in lawful public demonstration 94 6 Civic participation 42 43 Worked in another organization or association 85 16 Involved in work for voluntary or charitable organizations 62 40 Political consumerism 83 17 Boycotted certain products 83 17 No participation 62 38 All items but one (‘‘Involved in work for voluntary or charitable organizations’’) answer the following question: ‘‘There are different ways of trying to improve things in [country] or help prevent things from going wrong. During the last 12 months, have you done any of the following’’ Table 4 Overlap between types of political participation Type of participation % One type 49 Institutional political participation 7 Non-institutional political participation 9 Civic participation 29 Political consumerism 4 Two types 28 Political participation 3 Formal participation 9 Public participation 4 Informal participation 3 Institutional political participation and political consumerism 1 Non-institutional political participation and civic participation 8 Three types 16 Institutional political participation and non-institutional political participation and civic participation 8 Non-institutional political participation and civic participation and political consumerism 4 Institutional political participation and civic participation and political consumerism 2 Institutional political participation and non-institutional political participation and political consumerism 2 Four types 6 Turning to the independent variables, societal pessimism pessimism, given that they capture a diffuse concern about is measured by the sum score of two items: ‘‘For most society in general going in the wrong direction. Although people in [country], life is getting worse’’ and ‘‘Hard to be ideally this correlation would be higher, it is not overly hopeful about the future of the world’’ (r = .48). These surprising, given the fact the ﬁrst item is more socioeco- items both adequately measure the core of societal nomic and the second is very general. Because both aspects are important to include in a measure of societal pes- simism, the best option use them both. Moreover, these two The reported correlations are polychoric correlations in this article in the case of the 1–5 Likert scales. 123 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 747 items are also used in previous studies on societal pes- understand’’ (reversed) and ‘‘Making mind up about simism (Steenvoorden and Harteveld 2017) and on related political issues,’’ ranging from 1 to 5, indicating very dif- concepts like social actualization ‘‘the world is becoming a ﬁcult to very easy (r = .49). better place for everyone’’ (Keyes 1998; Keyes and Shapiro 2004) and (a lack of) optimism, ‘‘the lot of the average person is getting worse’’ (Uslaner 2002; Uslaner and Method Brown 2005). Political trust is measured by the sum score of three Because the four groups of participants overlap, separate items, which ask people how much they trust politicians, logistic regression analyses for the four types of partici- political parties, and Parliament on a scale from 0 to 10. pation are the most appropriate research method. This is to These items show correlations ranging from .69 to .86. be preferred over excluding participants in more than one Social trust is also measured by the sum score of three type of participation, which non-randomly excludes 51% of items on a scale from 0 to 10: ‘‘Most of the time people are all respondents, or to perform multinomial analysis on all helpful or mostly looking out for themselves,’’ ‘‘Most groups in Table 3, which would disable a comparison of people try to take advantage of you if they had the chance, four types of participation. Still, controlling for the overlap or try to be fair,’’ and ‘‘Most people can be trusted or you in types of participation is needed because the people who can’t be too careful in dealing with people’’. The correla- participate in more than one type come from a speciﬁc tions range from .49 to .57. I standardized the resulting group—the relatively highly educated and efﬁcacious— scales of societal pessimism, political trust, and social trust which otherwise dominates the analyses and yields differ- to facilitate direct coefﬁcient comparison within models. ent results. Therefore, I include a dummy in all analyses, The scales correlate at - .35 (societal pessimism and which is 1 when respondents participate in more than one political trust), - .35 (societal pessimism and social trust), type of participation. This means the higher chance of and .42 (political trust and social trust). participation for people engaged in two, three, or four types Of course, I control for a range of factors that are known is accounted for with the dummy and does not mediate in the literature to affect participation (e.g., Armingeon through other variables. As mentioned above, all non- 2007; Badescu and Neller 2007). For example, gender, age participants are excluded from the analyses, because they groups (18–34, 35–54, 55 ?), resident in a rural area or are not the focus of this study and might blur the differ- small city versus (the suburbs of) a large city, marital status ences between types of participation. The results of the (married or ofﬁcial partner vs. divorced/separated, wid- logistic regressions of the four types of participation are owed or single), size of household, number of children, and then compared to draw conclusions. In all regressions, I level of religiosity (‘‘How often attend religious services eliminate all cross-national variance in the dependent apart from special occasions,’’ ranging 1–7: never to every variables by including country dummies and deal with the day) are included as established demographic factors error structure by using clustered robust standard errors. As related to political participation. As an assurance that the robustness checks, I repeated the logistic analyses for the measure of societal pessimism reﬂects only sociotropic nine items that constitute the four types of participation concerns, I include a variable on satisfaction with life as a separately and I repeated the analyses with non-participants whole, ranging from 0 to 10. (see Appendix Table 10). I also control for established factors in participation research, namely resources, political interest, and political efﬁcacy. Resources are operationalized with educational Results level (low, medium, or high), source of income (salary or proﬁt vs. pension, unemployment beneﬁt, other beneﬁt or Correlations Between Types of Participation other source), and level of income (household’s total net income, in 12 categories). Political interest is measured To examine the interrelatedness of the forms of participa- with two variables: An item asking how interested one is in tion, I show the correlations between all nine items on politics on a 1–4 scale, and the ratio of time spent fol- political participation (within-type correlations in boxes). lowing political news and current affairs on TV to all time In the literature, correlations are often reported to be low spent watching TV. Political efﬁcacy is measured by the (.0–.3) to moderate (.3–.5) between types of participation, sum score of two items: ‘‘Politics is too complicated to whereas within types of participation correlations range As a robustness check, I created factor scores instead of scales As a result, the reference category in each analysis indicates people based on sum scores. The results lead to the same conclusions. who do not participate in that way, and also not in more than one way Excluding this variable yields the same conclusions. of the four ways. 123 748 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 Table 5 Correlations between the items on participation including non-participants. Source: European Social Survey 2006 12 34 56 78 1. member of a political party 1 2. contacted a politician .45 1 3. worked in political organization .79 .62 1 4. worn or displayed badge .39 .39 .56 1 5. signed a petition .16 .37 .37 .52 1 6. demonstrated .21 .32 .48 .57 .57 1 7. worked in civic organization .39 .49 .58 .51 .43 .37 1 8. voluntary organization .27 .35 .38 .35 .30 .25 .60 1 9. boycotted products .08 .31 .23 .39 .52 .39 .35 .26 These are tetrachoric correlations because the variables are dummies. The correlations shown are signiﬁcant at p \ .05 Table 6 Correlations between the items on participation excluding non-participants. Source: European Social Survey 2006 12 34 56 78 1. member of a political party 1 2. contacted a politician .31 1 3. worked in political organization .74 .52 1 4. worn or displayed badge .27 .23 .47 1 5. signed a petition -.06 .11 .19 .33 1 6. demonstrated .08 .16 .38 .47 .41 1 7. worked in civic organization .23 .31 .46 .36 .17 .21 1 8. voluntary organization -.04 -.05 .11 -.27 -.08 .30 1 9. boycotted products -.11 .08 .06 .22 .29 .23 .13 -.19 These are tetrachoric correlations because the variables are dummies. The correlations shown are signiﬁcant at p \ .05 widely, from low to strong ([ .5) (Teorell et al. 2007; Examining Differences Among Types of Participants Verba and Nie 1972). Table 5 indeed shows that correla- tions between types of participation are mostly low to Table 7 shows the results of the logistic regression analyses (the country dummies are not shown for reasons of space), moderate, with a few exceptions (such as wearing a badge), and that within-type correlations vary considerably, from and Table 8 summarizes which hypotheses are supported .39 to .79. and which are rejected (the latter between brackets). If we Table 6, shows the correlations for the participants only, ﬁrst look at the coefﬁcients of societal pessimism, the as the logistic regressions also exclude non-participants. results are in line with three of the four hypotheses on this And that paints a different picture: correlations are overall attitude. Societal pessimism is positively related to non- much lower, some lose signiﬁcance (and therefore not institutional political participation and political con- sumerism, which means that people involved in both non- reported), and some turn out to be negative. From the differences between Tables 5 and 6, we can draw several institutionalized, protest types of participation (namely demonstrating and signing petitions) as well as political important conclusions. First, correlations between types of participation are ‘‘artiﬁcially’’ high because non-partici- consumerism (boycotting products) are indeed relatively pation on one type is positively related to non-participation pessimistic about society, which is in line with H2 and H4. on another type. Second, participation in one type does not The signiﬁcant negative relationship between societal always increase participation in another type. Instead, some pessimism and civic participation supports H3; civic par- types of participation show a negative correlation, meaning ticipants are relatively optimistic about society. However, the opposite is in fact true. Finally, these correlations the relationship between societal pessimism and institu- underline the need to establish what differentiates types of tional political participation is not signiﬁcant and the participants, because they are even less alike when we look expected negative relationship (H1) is not supported by the data. at them without the ‘‘noise’’ of the non-participants. 123 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 749 Table 7 Logistic regression analyses of four types of political participation. Source: European Social Survey 2006 Institutional political Non-institutional political Civic participation Political participation participation consumerism b se b se b se b se Demographic characteristics Male 0.13** (0.06) - 0.29*** (0.06) 0.28*** (0.08) - 0.36*** (0.08) Age (18–34) 35–54 0.14** (0.07) - 0.28** (0.10) 0.12 (0.08) 0.12 (0.09) 55? 0.33*** (0.07) - 0.48*** (0.13) 0.08 (0.12) 0.11 (0.08) City - 0.25*** (0.05) 0.27*** (0.06) - 0.24*** (0.07) 0.27*** (0.05) Marital status (married or partnership) Divorced or separated 0.06 (0.07) 0.18** (0.07) - 0.12* (0.07) 0.09 (0.09) Widowed or partner died - 0.12 (0.09) 0.08 (0.12) 0.01 (0.10) - 0.17* (0.09) Single - 0.10 (0.07) 0.21** (0.07) - 0.09 (0.05) 0.12** (0.04) Household size 0.04** (0.02) 0.00 (0.03) 0.08*** (0.02) - 0.07** (0.02) Children living at home - 0.11* (0.06) 0.07 (0.07) - 0.14** (0.07) 0.14** (0.06) Attendance religious services 0.01 (0.02) - 0.11*** (0.02) 0.26*** (0.02) - 0.14*** (0.02) Satisfaction with life - 0.01 (0.01) - 0.02* (0.01) 0.03** (0.01) - 0.02 (0.01) Resources Education (medium) Low 0.14 (0.09) - 0.11 (0.07) - 0.09 (0.07) - 0.29*** (0.06) High 0.09 (0.06) 0.05 (0.07) 0.10* (0.06) 0.07 (0.06) Source of income (proﬁt/salary) Pension 0.05 (0.07) - 0.15** (0.07) 0.08 (0.05) - 0.12* (0.07) Unemployment beneﬁt 0.52** (0.16) - 0.05 (0.08) - 0.05 (0.12) 0.05 (0.15) Other beneﬁt 0.24 (0.21) 0.18 (0.21) 0.11 (0.19) - 0.20 (0.13) Other 0.14 (0.13) 0.04 (0.15) 0.20** (0.09) 0.10 (0.15) Household income - 0.04** (0.02) - 0.01 (0.02) 0.02 (0.02) 0.02 (0.02) Political interest and efﬁcacy Ratio political news/all news 0.03 (0.07) - 0.19** (0.07) 0.21** (0.08) 0.37*** (0.09) Political interest 0.29*** (0.03) 0.07** (0.02) - 0.14*** (0.03) 0.21*** (0.05) Political efﬁcacy 0.07*** (0.01) - 0.01 (0.01) - 0.05** (0.02) 0.06*** (0.01) Societal outlook Societal pessimism - 0.05 (0.04) 0.10** (0.03) - 0.14*** (0.03) 0.08** (0.04) Political trust 0.11** (0.04) - 0.04 (0.03) 0.04 (0.03) - 0.22*** (0.03) Social trust - 0.15*** (0.02) 0.10** (0.04) 0.10*** (0.03) 0.02 (0.04) More than 1 type of participation 2.43*** (0.08) 2.22*** (0.08) 1.45*** (0.07) 1.97*** (0.07) Coefﬁcients are log odds, with *p \ 0.05; **p \ 0.01; ***p \ 0.001 (one-sided tests) Table 8 Supported and rejected (between brackets) hypotheses Institutional political Non-institutional political Civic Political participation participation participation consumerism Societal pessimism (-) ?- ? Political trust ? (-)(-) - Social trust -? ? (?) 123 750 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 When we turn to political trust, we see that people participation, whereas the oldest age group (55 ?) is more involved in political parties and with politicians indeed are often involved in institutional political participation. Urban more trusting of these actors and institutions than people inhabitants and singles are more often non-institutional who do not participate in this way, in line with H5. The political participants and political consumerism, while in expected negative relationship with political consumerism rural areas the other two types of participation are more (H8) is also supported. Surprisingly, this is not the case for common. Children living at home increase the chance on non-institutional political participation. In contrast to pre- political consumerism, but decrease civic participation. vious studies that measure non-institutional political par- Low-educated people are less likely to be political con- ticipation including boycotting (Barnes and Kaase 1979; sumers, and the unemployed are more likely to engage in Hooghe and Marien 2013;Vra´bl´ıkova´ 2013), the current institutional political participation. Civic participants are measure with only demonstrating and signing petitions less politically interested or politically efﬁcacious than the does not ﬁnd this negative relationship with political trust. other three groups. Political consumers stand out in their Possible, the effect found in previous studies is mainly attention to political news. driven by boycotting. Also the hypothesis on the negative As a robustness check, I analyzed the nine participation relationship between political trust and civic participation items separately with logistic regressions to check whether needs to be rejected. This differs from in earlier studies that this yields the same results. Table 9 shows the effects of report this group as low in political trust (Brehm and Rahn the individual items per type of participation, with signif- 1997; Eliasoph 1998). An explanation for this different icant effects (p\ .05, one-sided tests) indicated by plus ﬁnding could be that these previous studies focus on a and minus signs, and a non-signiﬁcant effect indicated by broader range of civic participation and that they include an empty cell. It shows that there are three notable excep- social participation. The unexpected non-ﬁndings in the tions from the general pattern. One is the negative rela- case of H6 and H7 could also be the result of the fact that tionship between societal pessimism and contacting a non-participants are excluded here, in contrast to previous politician, which is in line with hypothesis 1, but does not studies. That turns out not to be the case: the analyses in show for the institutional political participation category as Table 10 in the Appendix include non-participants and a whole. A second exception is the negative relationship yield the same conclusions with regard to H6 and H7. between political trust and signing petition. However, the Moving on to social trust, Table 7 shows social trust to positive coefﬁcient for signing petition is only just signif- be negatively related to institutional political participation, icant [- 0.05 (se = 0.03)], in contrast to the coefﬁcient of as hypothesized (H9). People involved in institutional boycotting, which is very convincingly signiﬁcant [- 0.22 politics are less trusting of the general other than are other (se = 0.03)]. Therefore, the negative sign of political trust in the case of signing petition is not a very convincing one types of participants, and social trust is positively related to civic participation (H10) and non-institutional political and should not alter the conclusions. participation (H11), also in line with my expectations. Third, it is important to notice that the positive rela- However, social trust does not relate signiﬁcantly to tionship between social trust and non-institutional partici- political consumerism. This is in line with previous studies pation seems to be based on the item signing a petition, as (Pattie et al. 2003; Stolle et al. 2005) and may underline the the other item of non-institutional political participation individual nature of political consumerism. It also stresses does not show this relationship. This means we should the need to differentiate political consumerism from non- interpret the support for hypothesis 10 with some caution. institutional political participation. Overall, it is safe to conclude that within all four types of Overall, the results support eight out of the twelve participation, the effects of societal pessimism, political hypotheses on the relationships between the three societal trust, and social trust are in line with those in Table 7 for attitudes and four types of participation. The societal out- most or all of the items on participation. look of the four groups of participants can be summarized Finally, I ran the analyses including non-participants, to as follows: Institutional political participants trust politics see whether that blurs the ﬁndings as expected. Table 10 in rather than people, non-institutional political participants the Appendix shows the results, which are mostly the same, are societal pessimists who trust other people, civic par- except for the relationship between political trust and non- ticipants are societal optimists who trust other people, and institutional participation, which reaches signiﬁcance, political consumers are pessimists who do not trust politics. albeit only just. Therefore, it shows that the results are Several of the control variables also show signiﬁcance in robust, and that in fact it does not alter the conclusions differentiating between types of participation. Men are much in this article whether we compare groups of par- more often involved in formal and women in informal ticipations to each other or to the whole population, participation. The youngest age group (18–35) is more including non-participants. However, some coefﬁcients do often involved in political non-institutional political change, besides the one on political trust, also those of 123 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 751 Table 9 Effects of attitudes on forms of institutional political participation, non-institutional political participation, civic participation and political consumerism. Source: European Social Survey 2006 Societal pessimism Political trust Social trust Institutional political participation 1 - Member party ?- Contacted politician -- Worked in political organization ?- Worn/displayed badge ? Non-institutional political participation 11 Signed petition ?- ? Demonstrated ? Civic participation - 1 Worked in civic organization -? Voluntary organization -? Political consumerism 1 - Boycotted products ?- - 0.05 (0.03) - 0.22 (0.03) educational level, political interest, and marital status for something as straightforward as correlations. These are instance. Therefore, in future research that compares already only moderate while including participants, but groups of participants to each other, excluding non-par- decrease substantially, and in some cases even lose sig- ticipants is the most reliable line of inquiry. niﬁcance or turn out to be negative instead of positive, when non-participants are excluded. This underlines the need to differentiate among types of participants. Conclusions and Discussion The logistic regression analyses support eight of the twelve hypotheses on the relationships between societal The large literature on participation has focused predomi- pessimism, political trust, and social trust and the four nantly on causes of participation, or the characteristics of types of participation. If we compare types of participants speciﬁc types of participation. While some authors exam- to each other, we can characterize the institutional political ined the differences between groups of citizens with a participants as trusting politics rather than people, non- small or large a variety of activities (Amna˚ and Ekman institutional political participants as societal pessimists 2014; Johann 2012; Oser 2016), the similarities and dif- who trust other people, civic participants as societal opti- ferences between participants in different ﬁelds of society mists who trust other people, and political consumers as are understudied. This article proposes to differentiate pessimists who do not trust politics. participants in political participation along two dimensions: The ﬁnding that non-institutional political participation politically vs publicly oriented participation and formally and political consumerism should be differentiated is most vs informally organized participation. These dimensions surprising and has also important consequences. In contrast differentiate between four types of participation, distin- to previous studies into non-institutional political partici- guished Van Deth (2014): institutional political participa- pation, which often include political consumerism in that tion, non-institutional political participation, civic category (Barnes and Kaase 1979; Hooghe and Marien ´ ´ ´ participation, and political consumerism. Building on the 2013; Vrablıkova 2013), this article shows these two types matching hypothesis (Clary and Snyder 1999; Granik of participation differ in various respects, most notably in 2005), I proposed to differentiate between those four types their relationship to political trust, and should be pulled by the societal outlook of participants. I argued that that apart in future research. That is in line with the assumption people engage in participation in an organization, group, or of Almond and Verba, that citizens require positive ori- movement in which people have the same world view, entations toward the political system to participate in it, namely in terms of societal pessimism, political trust, and and that negative attitudes toward the political system lead social trust. to alienation (1963). Demonstrating and signing petitions, As a ﬁrst step, I ﬁnd that excluding non-participants the two operationalizations of non-institutional political from the analyses is quite important if we examine participation used here, are not situated in political 123 752 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 organizations, but are still directed at them. Compared to differences ask for panel research into participation. Are those types of participation, political consumerism is these generational differences or cohort differences? In the clearly more distanced from political actors and institu- latter case, we have little reason to expect that current tions. The ﬁnding that people in the latter distrust politics, divisions between groups of participants will diminish over while the former do not, means that political distrusting time. citizens might be more alienated from politics than we Moreover, because the results show participants to come assumed. from different groups, the inﬂuence of one type of partic- The results also call for more attention in future research ipation versus others becomes more important. If political to the constellation of attitudes. The relationship between participation is seen as a way to raise one’s voice and attitudes is a much debated topic, with some studies that thereby to play an important role in the functioning of ﬁnd an effect of social trust on political trust (Ba¨ck and democracy, the inﬂuence of one type of voice over the Christensen; Catterberg and Moreno 2006; Keele 2007), other becomes more important when those voices belong to whereas in some cases the effect of political trust on social different people. Indeed, types of political participation are trust is larger than the other way around (Brehm and Rahn rather different in terms of their perceived effectiveness 1997; Mishler and Rose 2005; Zmerli and Newton 2017). (Hooghe and Marien 2012). This underlines the importance This article shows that a variety of constellations attitudes of differentiating types of participation from each other in can exist, and can distinguish groups of participants from research on participation. each other. It is therefore important to pay more attention Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the to the causes of such different outlooks on society. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://crea The results also add insight into the alleged decline in tivecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, participation (Dalton 2004; Putnam 2000). A decline in distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give participation, especially institutional political participation, appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were seems unlikely to be counterbalanced by other types of made. participation, because they attract different types of people. In addition to the differences in attitudes, the analyses show age differences as well, with for instance relatively Appendix young (18–34) non-institutional political participants and older institutional political participants (55 ?), in line with See Table 10. previous studies (Stolle and Hooghe 2011). These age Table 10 Logistic regression analyses of four types of political participation and non-participants. Source: European Social Survey 2006 Institutional Non-institutional Civic participation Political Non-participants political political consumerism participation participation b se b se b se b se b se Demographic characteristics Male 0.14** (0.06) - 0.28*** (0.05) 0.20** (0.07) - 0.36*** (0.08) 0.04 (0.05) Age (18–34) 35–54 0.12* (0.07) - 0.26** (0.10) 0.07 (0.06) 0.11 (0.09) - 0.02 (0.06) 55? 0.29*** (0.08) - 0.47*** (0.13) - 0.01 (0.08) 0.10 (0.08) 0.20** (0.09) City - 0.25*** (0.05) 0.21*** (0.06) - 0.24*** (0.06) 0.25*** (0.05) 0.12** (0.05) Marital status (married or partnership) Divorced or separated 0.05 (0.08) 0.19** (0.07) - 0.12 (0.08) 0.10 (0.08) - 0.04 (0.06) Widowed or partner died - 0.17** (0.09) 0.02 (0.10) - 0.17** (0.08) - 0.20** (0.09) 0.24*** (0.06) Single - 0.11* (0.06) 0.21** (0.07) - 0.11** (0.05) 0.12** (0.04) 0.02 (0.05) Household size 0.04** (0.02) 0.00 (0.03) 0.07*** (0.02) - 0.07** (0.02) - 0.04* (0.02) Children living at home - 0.11** (0.05) 0.06 (0.07) - 0.14** (0.06) 0.13** (0.06) 0.07 (0.05) Attendance religious services 0.03 (0.02) - 0.08*** (0.02) 0.23*** (0.02) - 0.13*** (0.02) - 0.15*** (0.02) Satisfaction with life - 0.01 (0.01) - 0.02 (0.01) 0.02 (0.02) - 0.02 (0.01) - 0.00 (0.01) 123 Voluntas (2018) 29:740–755 753 Table 10 continued Institutional Non-institutional Civic participation Political Non-participants political political consumerism participation participation b se b se b se b se b se Resources Education (medium) Low 0.08 (0.08) - 0.16** (0.07) - 0.18** (0.07) - 0.31*** (0.06) 0.27*** (0.06) High 0.10* (0.06) 0.08 (0.07) 0.15** (0.06) 0.09 (0.06) - 0.38*** (0.05) Source of income (proﬁt/salary) Pension 0.03 (0.06) - 0.18** (0.07) 0.01 (0.05) - 0.14** (0.07) 0.12** (0.04) Unemployment beneﬁt 0.46*** (0.13) - 0.09 (0.10) - 0.13 (0.13) 0.01 (0.14) 0.06 (0.15) Other beneﬁt 0.18 (0.20) 0.11 (0.17) - 0.02 (0.17) - 0.21 (0.13) - 0.10 (0.13) Other 0.10 (0.13) - 0.00 (0.15) 0.05 (0.10) 0.07 (0.16) 0.02 (0.12) Household income - 0.04** (0.02) - 0.00 (0.01) 0.02 (0.01) 0.02 (0.02) - 0.03** (0.01) Political interest and efﬁcacy Ratio political news/all news 0.07 (0.07) - 0.14* (0.07) 0.29*** (0.08) 0.40*** (0.09) - 0.48*** (0.08) Political interest 0.33*** (0.03) 0.15*** (0.02) 0.03 (0.03) 0.24*** (0.05) - 0.45*** (0.03) Political efﬁcacy 0.07*** (0.01) 0.00 (0.01) - 0.02 (0.01) 0.07*** (0.01) - 0.07*** (0.02) Societal outlook Societal pessimism - 0.05 (0.04) 0.08** (0.04) - 0.11*** (0.03) 0.08** (0.04) 0.01 (0.03) Political trust 0.10** (0.03) - 0.05* (0.03) 0.02 (0.02) - 0.23*** (0.03) 0.06** (0.03) Social trust - 0.12*** (0.02) 0.12** (0.04) 0.12*** (0.03) 0.03 (0.03) - 0.12*** (0.02) More than 1 type of participation 3.14*** (0.09) 2.98*** (0.08) 2.46*** (0.06) 2.65*** (0.07) Coefﬁcients are log odds, with *p \ 0.05; **p \ 0.01; ***p \ 0.001 (one-sided tests) Barnes, S. 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VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations – Springer Journals
Published: May 29, 2018
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