What Kind of Democracy?: Participation, Inclusiveness and Contestation, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

What Kind of Democracy?

Participation, Inclusiveness and Contestation, 1st Edition

By Kateřina Vráblíková


230 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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The broad expansion of non-electoral political participation is considered one of the major changes in the nature of democratic citizenship in the 21st century. Most scholars – but also governments, transnational and subnational political institutions, and various foundations – have adopted the notion that contemporary democratic societies need a more politically active citizenry. Yet, contemporary democracies widely differ in the extent to which their citizens get involved in politics beyond voting. Why is political activism other than voting flourishing in the United States, but is less common in Britain and almost non-existent in post-communist countries like Bulgaria? The book shows that the answer does not lie in citizen’s predispositions, social capital or institutions of consensual democracy. Instead, the key to understanding cross-country differences in political activism beyond voting rests in democratic structures that combine inclusiveness and contestation.

What Kind of Democracy? is the first book to provide a theoretically driven empirical analysis of how different types of democratic arrangements affect individual participation in non-electoral politics.


'This book does an excellent job in enhancing our understanding of non-electoral political participation, a very important political phenomenon. The author builds on earlier works such as micro level explanations of political participation, institutions, or political culture but enriches our understanding of cross-country differences by adding that a crucial national characteristic, a political system that exhibits inclusiveness combined with contestation, will have a profound effect on participation. The book does a terrific job combining a strong theoretical approach with empirical findings across multiple countries.' - Zsolt Nyiri, Montclair State University, USA

'A highly needed and very original contribution to our understanding of cross-national variations in political participation. The sophisticated empirical analyses of the interplay between individual, institutional, and cultural factors are just as convincing as Vráblíková’s thoughtful discussions of the implications for normative democratic theories.' -Jan W. van Deth, University of Mannheim, Germany

'What Kind of Democracy shows how institutional and social contexts shape the level of protest activity across contemporary democracies. Vrablikova also offers an astute discussion of how democracies can create contexts to expand citizen participation beyond elections, and the implications that follow from a more engaged citizenry.' - Russell Dalton, University of California, Irvine

"Vrablikova crafted a challenging account of nonelectoral participation. Pitting the traditional inclusive consensus perspective on democracy against her inclusive contestation perspective she develops a new approach to democracy. Building on evidence from the ISSP and the ESS she show that nonelectoral participation is stimultated by factors included from the contestation model but not by factors from the consensus model. All this is written in a clear style. Highly recommended." - Bert Klandermans, VU-University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Landscape Puzzle

Chapter 2: Inclusive Contestation

Chapter 3: Micro Level of Political Participation

Chapter 4: How Do State Structures Matter?

Chapter 5: How Does Mobilization Matter?

Chapter 6: How Does Political Culture Matter?

Chapter 7: Solving the Landscape Puzzle

Conclusion: What Kind of Democracy?

About the Author

Katerina Vráblíková is Lecturer and the Chair of Political Science and International Comparative Social Research at the University of Mannheim, Germany. Her research and teaching focuses on political participation, political attitudes and values, social movements, and research methods.

About the Series

Conceptualising Comparative Politics

Advisory Board: Colin Hay (University of Sheffield), Courtney Jung (University of Toronto), Todd Landman (University of Essex), Mark Lichbach (University of Maryland), Shinasi Rama (New York University), Vivien Schmidt (Boston University), Till Förster (University of Basel), Zheng Yongnian (East Asia Institute/National University of Singapore)

Conceptualising Comparative Politics: People, Polities, and Markets seeks to bring a distinctive approach to comparative politics by rediscovering the discipline’s rich conceptual tradition and inter-disciplinary foundations. It aims to fill out the conceptual framework on which the rest of the subfield draws but to which books only sporadically contribute, and to complement theoretical and conceptual analysis by applying it to deeply explored case studies. The series publishes books that make serious inquiry into fundamental concepts in comparative politics (crisis, legitimacy, credibility, representation, institutions, civil society, reconciliation) through theoretically engaging and empirical deep analysis.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections