Regime support

Authored by: Pedro C. Magalhães

The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behaviorand Public Opinion

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138890404
eBook ISBN: 9781315712390
Adobe ISBN:


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What do citizens think about the political regimes they live under and how do they view other conceivable ways of organizing the polity? How do we explain changes or continuity in these attitudes and what consequences do they hold for the functioning and stability of the political system? These are all questions that have been posed with increasing frequency by comparative researchers since the publication of Almond and Verba’s (1963) pioneering work The Civic Culture in the early 1960s. While the conclusions that have been reached have differed across time and space, scholars have been largely united in their choice of methodology, with most relying on large-scale survey data to measure and test their core concepts. The release of Eurobarometer data from 1970 onward in particular prompted a rush of interest in comparing citizen attitudes toward their governing institutions. A decade later, both the European Values Study and the World Value Survey (EVS/WVS) began, alongside a range of other resources, providing further impetus to development of this literature. 1 In this chapter we provide an overview of the work that these initiatives fostered, with specific reference to understanding cross-national patterns in popular support for political regimes. We begin by defining the central object of study – that is, regime support. We then profile the main research questions that have been investigated in relation to regime support across countries, and the empirical findings that have been produced. We move on to discuss the measurement problems that such research has faced and evaluate how well these challenges have been overcome. Finally, we focus on outlining the main questions that remain for this line of research to address.

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