Critical Citizenship At Work: the Intriguing Combination of Democratic and Epistocratic Criticism of Representation in French Public Opinion – French Politics – article

Critical Citizenship At Work: the Intriguing Combination of Democratic and Epistocratic Criticism of Representation in French Public Opinion

David Copello | French Politics

2019-11-19

The crisis of representative democracy has been at the core of extensive research in contemporary political science. However, empirical works have mostly highlighted sceptical attitudes, and few studies have focused on critical citizens’ aspirations. This article explores the combined support for random selection and skills-testing of decision-makers in French public opinion. Drawing on data from the CEVIPOF 2017 French electoral survey, it discusses: (1) the level of concern and support for such institutional changes; (2) the intriguing convergence of both top-down and bottom-up criticism of the representative system; (3) the impact of education and (4) the impact of political preferences on attitudes towards random selection and skills-testing of representatives. We find that education has a negative effect on both variables, and that classical political variables (Left–Right scale) have a nonlinear impact. The stronger impact on variables is provided by critical citizenship types, defined by satisfaction/dissatisfaction with current democracy and aspirations for change.

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