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Creating democratic citizens: what people understand from democracy and how this understanding influences their political participation

Bülbül, Asya
The aim of this thesis is to examine the influence of different conceptualizations of democracy by ordinary citizens on their political participation. In this thesis, it is argued that an important variable has been neglected in the political participation literature, namely, the conceptual definitions people offer when they are asked to define what democracy is. To test this hypothesis, the definitions of democracy by people are divided into three categories: redistributive understanding, authoritative understanding and liberal understanding. Each definition is examined in terms of its relation to both conventional and unconventional types of participation. For the statistical analyses, the 6th wave of World Values Survey is used. Multilevel mixedeffects linear regression method is employed. The findings demonstrate that the ways in which people define democracy significantly correlate and predict political participation. Understanding democracy in terms of its liberal characteristics significantly increases both conventional and unconventional participation. On the other hand, emphasizing authoritative notions while defining democracy decreases the likelihood of engaging in both types of participation. Lastly, redistributive understanding of democracy is found to be predicting only unconventional political participation.