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Do Critical Citizens Foster Better Governance? A Comparative Study

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Both critical citizens and governance are attracting increasing interest in political science. Strangely enough, however, the two strands of research are rarely combined. This article sheds light on the relation between governance and political criticism by focusing on Europe. The article discusses and examines whether the level of political criticism expressed by a state's citizenry correlates with or even affects the quality of governance. In contrast to the conventional 'translation' of criticism as discontentment, this article scrutinises 'normative critical attentiveness', which is explained in detail (data: International Social Survey Program 2004, module: Citizenship). Legitimate and effective governance, as measured by the World Bank indices, correlates positively with critical attentiveness: states with citizenries that regard attentiveness as a civic duty provide more legitimate and effective governance than states with less attentive citizenries. These correlations remain significant when controlled for economic development. The cause of direction is not uniform, but must be differentiated for different characteristics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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