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Title:Political Participation in an Unstable Democracy: A Study of Two Regions in Colombia
Author(s):Velez, Eduardo
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Political Science, General
Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Abstract:This thesis is an empirical investigation of the causes of political participation in Colombia. The major premise underlying this work is that in addition to objective elements of the socioeconomic structure there are also subjective elements that induce political participation.
A sociological model was used to study the impact of the social structure and selected psychological attitudes on political participation. The model included socioeconomic background variables and demographic characteristics of individuals as objective measures of the person's social status. Secondly, it included subjective orientations, specifically, (a) measures of general alienation--composed of distrust of people, meaninglessness, social isolation, powerlessness, normlessness and self-estrangement; (b) measures of individual modernity; (c) of party identification; and (d) six scales of political alienation referring to different political objects: rejection of the constitutional order, rejection of democratic political institutions, political cynicism or a sense of political normlessness, sectarianism or party partisanship, rejection of governmental authorities, and political powerlessness or inefficacy. After a test of discriminant validity failed to distinguish empirically the measures of individual modernity and general alienation and they both proved not to have a significant impact on participation when controlling for the socio-demographic background characteristics, both of them were dropped from the model.
Political participation was measured by four different modes of participation that extended beyond the notion of simple electoral participation. The modes were: voting, electoral campaigning, community activities and personalized contacting. An overall measure of general participation that included the four modes was also studied.
The application of the model indicates that socioeconomic status is, in general, the major force that leads to participation. Party identification was also a relevant inducer of participation. Among the political alienation scales, political inefficacy had also a significant importance on participation, and rejection of democratic political institutions, rejections of the constitutional order, and rejection of governmental authorities had some importance as well. However, political cynicism and sectarianism or party partisanship did not have any importance. Interestingly, the subjective measures that induce participation were associated with socioeconomic status in such a way that status caused participation directly and indirectly through the subjective measures.
The principal contributions of this work are the following. For the first time in Colombia, measures of political participation, general alienation, political alienation and individual modernity were built and simultaneously studied. Second, a criticism of the approach of the empirical democratic theorists is presented based on two findings: the masses participate more than expected and they also participate in rational terms.
Issue Date:1981
Description:374 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1981.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8203625
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1981

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