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People haven't had enough of experts: Technocratic attitudes among citizens in nine European countries

Daniele Caramani, University of Zurich

Tue 9 June 2020

11:00am - 12:00pm

Virtual seminar


Democratic theory postulates that technocracy and populism mount a twofold challenge to representative democracy and parties, while also standing at odds with each other in the vision of representation they advocate. Can these relationships be observed empirically at the level of citizen preferences and what does this mean for alternative forms of representation? The talk presents results from an investigation of technocratic attitudes among citizens in nine EU member states. Attitudes follow three dimensions – Expertise, Elitism, Anti-politics Using latent class analysis, empirical data allows to identify groups of citizens that follow a technocratic, populist and party-democratic profiles. Results show that technocratic attitudes are pervasive and can be meaningfully distinguished from populist attitudes, though important overlaps remain. The analysis also points to differences in demographics and political attitudes among citizen profiles that are relevant to political behaviour. This highlights the role that citizens’ increasing demands for expertise play in driving preferences for alternative types of governance in an increasing complex and inter-connected global society.

About the speaker

Daniele Caramani has joined the University of Zurich in 2014. He grew up in Milan and Paris and studied political science at the University of Geneva where he has also worked as teaching assistant. He holds a Ph.D. from the European University Institute, Florence, where he subsequently has been Vincent Wright Fellow (Robert Schuman Centre). He has been an assistant professor at the University of Florence, has spent four years at the University of Mannheim (MZES) as a researcher, and has been senior lecturer/reader at the University of Birmingham. From 2006 to 2014 he has been a professor at the University of St. Gallen.

In 2019 and 2020 he is visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra. In the past, he has held fellowships at the EUI, Florence, at Nuffield College, Oxford, and at the Rokkan Centre in Bergen.

He is the author of Elections in Western Europe since 1815: Electoral Results by Constituencies (Palgrave 2000, with CD-ROM), The Nationalization of Politics (Cambridge University Press 2004) for which he has been awarded UNESCO's "Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Research in the Social Sciences", and The Europeanization of Politics (Cambridge University Press 2015). He has authored Introduction to the Comparative Method with Boolean Algebra (Sage, "Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences" 2009), which has been translated into Chinese and Farsi, and edits the textbook Comparative Politics (Oxford University Press 2017, fourth edition, translated into Italian and Croatian). He regularly publishes articles in scientific journals.

Daniele Caramani is Co-Director of the Constituency-Level Elections Archive which has received the APSA "Dataset Award" in 2012. He is Director of the Doctoral Programme "Democracy Studies".

His research and teaching profile is broadly comparative. It has a strong historical dimension with time series reaching back to the first phases of democratic transition, state building, and industrialization up to the present day. Empirical research is based on comparative and quantitative-statistical methods, and has produced documented datasets and archives which are available to the academic community. It includes work on elections and representation, electoral systems and electoral behaviour, parties and party systems, democratization, state formation and nation-building, methodology, European integration, globalization, regionalism and nationalism, and political geography.

His main contribution has been in the field of the theory of the nationalization and Europeanization of politics. Currently, he works on extending that research with a third monograph on the "globalization" of politics. Further projects include work on technocracy, populism, left-right in global perspective and global voting rights.

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