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Solt, Frederick
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LIS Working Paper Series 340
What determines the responsiveness and effectiveness of democratic governments in meeting their citizens' needs? Based on his 1993 study of the twenty Italian regions, Robert Putnam argued that 'civic community', a self-reinforcing syndrome of social engagement and political participation, is the explanation. A re-examination of Putnam's data reveals little evidence of such a syndrome, but confirms that where more citizens participate in politics outside of networks of clientelistic exchange, more effective democratic government results. To discern the causes of variation in this self-motivated political participation, I then test Putnam's measures of social engagement against aspects of Italian socio-economic structure. Economic development and the historical distribution of land, not social engagement, are found to be powerful predictors of self-motivated political participation and in turn democratic quality.
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Working Paper
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