Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Don’t Good Democracies Need “Good” Citizens? Citizen Dispositions and the Study of Democratic Quality

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Abstract:  This article advances the argument that quality of democracy depends not only on the performance of democratic institutions but also on the dispositions of citizens. We make three contributions to the study of democratic quality. First, we develop a fine-grained, structured conceptualization of the three core dispositions (democratic commitments, political capacities, and political participation) that make up the citizen component of democratic quality. Second, we provide a more precise account of the notion of inter-component congruence or “fit” between the institutional and citizen components of democratic quality, distinguishing between static and dynamic forms of congruence. Third, drawing on cross-national data, we show the importance of taking levels of inter-dispositional consistency into account when measuring democratic quality.

Keywords:  citizens; democracy; democratic commitments; political capacity; political participation; quality of democracy



© Quinton Mayne, Brigitte Geißel. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.