In many OECD countries citizens are dissatisfied with the way democracy works. Despite high levels of support for democracy as a form of government, turnout for elections is faltering, and trust in parliaments, parties and politicians is decreasing. While the magnitude of these changes differs from country to country, the trend toward growing dissatisfaction has been almost universal. What has caused these developments? Studies in history and political economy have identified the 1970s as a turning point in postwar history at which the "Golden Age of Capitalism" came to an end. Since the 1980s, all OECD-countries have entered a phase of economic liberalization. However, political science research on democracy has only rarely studied how the end of the prosperity era has affected democratic politics. Against this background, this project asks how democratic participation changes under conditions of austerity and economic liberalization. Using individual level and aggregate level information, as well as longitudinal and cross-sectional data, this project analyzes whether social inequality translates into unequal participation and how this affects the democratic idea of political equality in turn. Project duration: September 2007 to December 2014.
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