Recently some scholars have highlighted a paradoxical phenomenon existing in democratic systems: people supporting democracy are also those most willing to protest against the authority and to question it. However, if we consider the tasks of contemporary democratic citizenship in a social-psychological perspective, this turns out to be only apparent. Indeed, if obedience to authority is relevant as it ensures the continuity of social and group life, disobedience may be crucial in stopping the authority relationship from degenerating into an authoritarian one. Following Kelman and Hamilton’s analysis of legitimacy dynamics, we will try to consider how actions of disobedience may serve the defense of democracy. In particular, by considering the different ways in which people relate to the political system, the relevance of so-called value-oriented citizens in supporting democracy will be considered. In a series of experimental designs, we sought to verify whether value-oriented citizens are really more ready to disobey to authority’s illegitimate demands, irrespective of the authority’s legitimacy. In particular, our studies analyzed the effect of the perception of the authority's level of democracy on the response to an illegitimate demand. Three studies have been conducted; in each, people were asked if they would accept restrictions of certain human rights or not in order to preserve the authority’s proper functioning. Perception of democracy of the authority was manipulated in one study by varying the person who ordered restriction of certain human rights (Kennedy vs. Ceausescu) and in the others by varying the government that ordered the restriction (France vs. Iran) The results of all three studies confirm that value-oriented citizens are more likely to have critical attitudes towards authority, independently of the perceived level of democracy of authority.

In the Name of Democracy: Disobedience and Value Oriented Citizenship

PASSINI, STEFANO;
2011

Abstract

Recently some scholars have highlighted a paradoxical phenomenon existing in democratic systems: people supporting democracy are also those most willing to protest against the authority and to question it. However, if we consider the tasks of contemporary democratic citizenship in a social-psychological perspective, this turns out to be only apparent. Indeed, if obedience to authority is relevant as it ensures the continuity of social and group life, disobedience may be crucial in stopping the authority relationship from degenerating into an authoritarian one. Following Kelman and Hamilton’s analysis of legitimacy dynamics, we will try to consider how actions of disobedience may serve the defense of democracy. In particular, by considering the different ways in which people relate to the political system, the relevance of so-called value-oriented citizens in supporting democracy will be considered. In a series of experimental designs, we sought to verify whether value-oriented citizens are really more ready to disobey to authority’s illegitimate demands, irrespective of the authority’s legitimacy. In particular, our studies analyzed the effect of the perception of the authority's level of democracy on the response to an illegitimate demand. Three studies have been conducted; in each, people were asked if they would accept restrictions of certain human rights or not in order to preserve the authority’s proper functioning. Perception of democracy of the authority was manipulated in one study by varying the person who ordered restriction of certain human rights (Kennedy vs. Ceausescu) and in the others by varying the government that ordered the restriction (France vs. Iran) The results of all three studies confirm that value-oriented citizens are more likely to have critical attitudes towards authority, independently of the perceived level of democracy of authority.
PIDOP CONFERENCE: Engaged citizens? Political participation and social engagement among youth, women, minorities and migrants
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Passini S.; Morselli D.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/103744
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