Significance emphasis on social rights and direct
Significance of studying differentconceptualizations of democracyAnumber of researchers decided to not just examine the variations in themeanings attributed to democracy but address as well why it should be studied.Does it matter if different conceptualization of democracy exists? What couldbe the implications of looking at democracy emphasizing this view and not theother? Anderson(2002) argues that in studying about political support, it is not problematicif people view democracy differently as people already associate differentthings on other items of political support. He maintains that at least someaspect of political support is still measured.Conversely, others insist that differentconceptualizations of democracy have implications and this is supported byempirical data. In looking at the case of Africans, those who conceive ofdemocracy in procedural terms leads to increased support for democracy.Moreover, having procedural definition of democracy affects more the demand fordemocracy than having formal education and positive evaluation of governmentperformance (Bratton and Mattes 2001, Bratton, Mattes and Gyimah-Boadi 2005). In Latin America, equating democracywith elections and rule of law is related to increase satisfaction withperformance of government as well as opposition to military coups (Baviskar& Malone 2004, Carrion 2008).
Additionally, a negative meaning of democracywould lower support for democratic governance. In contrast, deviation fromliberal understanding leads to weaker commitment to democracy in Canache’sstudy of the Latin American public (2012). Using the case of East and WestGermany, Fuchs (1999) demonstrated the effect of different conceptions ofdemocracy on regime stability. Citizens of East Germany, which is under theinfluence of Soviet Union, gives more emphasis on social rights and directparticipation. He categorized this in his work as supplemental definition ofdemocracy. Conversely, those from West Germany, which is supported by liberaldemocracies of Western Europe and the United States, see democracy in minimalterms by prioritizing liberal rights, rule of law and elections.
For EastGermany, when their ideals of democracy are not met, they would penalize thedemocratic regime itself. On the other hand, West Germany would penalize thegovernment in power for the failure to provide things such as social rights. Asmentioned by Miller and his associates (1997), “individual’s understanding ofdemocracy is relevant to assessments of how well the government is perceived asfulfilling the expected norms of a democracy.” Moreover, the real state ofdemocracy can also be measured by looking at how governance works if it isaccording to the vision of democracy of the governed (Koelble and Lipuma 2008).Powerful groups or individuals could also use democracy discourses as politicaltool to legitimize their political actions and undermine actual democraticprocesses and democratic transitions (Farrelly 2015, Lu and Shi 2015). Asidefrom the content of the meanings, being able to give a definition in open-endedsurvey of democratic conceptualization alone has significance. The capabilityof defining democracy is positively related to support for democracy.Furthermore, a more multifaceted definition increases support for democracy,tendency to vote and opposition towards illegal protests (Canache 2012).
Thus,exploring different conceptions of democracy has significance. It could help indemocratic stabilization especially in developed and developing democracies,democratic transitions in non-democratic states, or even disguise authoritariannature of a regime. ConclusionAnumber of public opinion surveys have been conducted to study the level ofsupport for democracy. However, this literature review has shown that the word’democracy’ in these surveys could mean differences among respondents all overthe world. Democracy could be seen not only in its Western definition asdifferent factors such as culture and historical experience can affect howdemocracy is created and viewed. Although empirical studies have indicated that a liberal understandingof democracy is still predominant, it is still interesting to discover thatregardless of whether they are politically active or not, citizens can offer adefinition of democracy and could also be multifaceted. Furthermore,reviewing the literature presented some debates and gaps. Methods-wise, thereare still considerable arguments about whether to use open-ended or close-endedquestions.
Studies also differ in how to come up with the groupings ofresponses. Some would argue that categorization of responses in open-endedquestions and interviews, even if using maximalist approach is still open toselectivity bias. Likewise, is it important to study democratic conceptualization?The review suggests that it is still so because variations in understanding ofdemocracy could affect attitudes towards incumbent governments, democraticinstitutions, and democracy itself.Views of significant political actors regardingdemocracy need focus as evidenced by limited studies on this.
Why is itimportant to study them? These actors, having relatively more access andcapacities, can cultivate their own discourses on democracy and use it as apowerful discursive leverage for their own interests. For example, militariesafter launching coups use the language of democracy by reinstituting themselvesthrough electoral and constitutional mechanism (Paley 2002). Other keypolitical actors warrant examinations such as the legislators. The legislatureis considered as one of the foundations of a democratic government. Legislatorsact as the representatives, reflecting the sentiments and opinions of thecitizens (Olson, 1994). Aside from this, they function as lawmakers, creatinglaws that could determine the path of the democratic government. By the virtueof theory of representation, it would be noteworthy to compare citizen’s viewof democracy with that of the legislators to see if they match or diverge.
Withthis, how do Filipino legislators define democracy? Is there a differencebetween them or a pattern is observable? A study on this matter could helpfurther expand the study on democratic conceptualization by looking on otheractors and doing an in-depth case study aside from the usual cross-nationalanalysis.