Unconventional Participation in Time of Crisis: How Ideology Shapes Citizens’ Political Actions


Since democracy requires the involvement of citizens, the topic of political participation has attracted great attention from both practitioners and scholars. During the current financial and economic crisis, there have been various protest movements in many European countries. In this paper, which employs data from the European Social Survey and analyzes some European countries using a longitudinal study (2002-2012), I measure unconventional political participation considering three types of action - signed a petition, participated in a lawful demonstration and joined a boycott. By linking citizens to government ideology and vote for party government to political action through a multilevel model, this paper argues that both ideology and citizens’ electoral choices have a bearing on unconventional political participation. In times of crisis, government choices do not feed the level of unconventional political participation. However, differences emerge in terms of political behavior when I consider citizens’ ideology, loser status and government ideology.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v9i1p127

Keywords: Ideology; Economic crisis; Europe; Loser status; Unconventional political participation


Abramowitz A.I. and K.L. Saunders (2008), “Is Polarization a Myth?”, Journal of Politics, 70(2): 542-555.

Adams J.F., S. Merrill, and B. Grofman (2005). A Unified Theory of Party Competition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Alford J. R., C.L. Funk, and J.R. Hibbing (2005), “Are political orientations genetically transmitted?”, American Political Science Review, 99: 153–167.

Almond G.A. and S. Verba (1963), The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Anduiza, E., C. Christanco, and J. Cabusedo (2013), “Mobilization through Online Social Networks: The Political Protest of the Indignados in Spain”, Information, Communica-tion, and Society, 17(6): 750–64.

Baglioni S. (2007), “The effects of direct democracy and city size on political participa-tion: the Swiss Case”, in T. Zittel and D. Fuchs (eds.), Participatory Democracy and Po-litical Participation. New York: Routledge.

Bellucci P. and V. Memoli (2012), “The determinants of democratic support in Europe”, in D. Sanders, P.C. Magalhaes, and G. Toka (eds.), Citizens and the European Polity: Mass Attitudes Towards the European and National Polities (Citizenship, Identity and Europe-an Integration), Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bernhagen P. and W.A. Maloney (2010), “Civil society organizations as a ‘little democra-cy’?”, in W.A. Maloney and J.W. van Deth (eds.), Civil society and activism in Europe. New York: Routledge.

Bettio F., M. Corsi, C. D’Ippoliti, A. Lyberaki, M. Samek Lodovici, and A. Verashchagina (2012). The impact of the economic crisis on the situation of women and men and on gender equality policies. European Commission, Luxembourg: European Union.

Blais A. and D. Rubenson (2012), “The Source of Turnout Decline: New Values or New Contexts?”, Comparative Political Studies, 46(1) 95–117.

Boarini R. and R. Dìaz (2015), “Cast a ballot or protest in the street: did our grandparents do more of both? An Age-Period-cohort analysis in political participation”, OECD WORKING PAPER, No.60, STD/DOC(2015)2, Retrived 15 November 2015:


Carsey T.M. and G.C. Layman (2006), “Changing Sides or Changing Minds? Party Identifi-cation and Policy Preferences in the American Electorate”, American Journal of Politi-cal Science, 50(2):464–77.

Curini L., W. Joe, and V. Memoli (2015), Why Policy Representation Matter: The Conse-quences of Ideological Proximity Between Citizens and Their Governments, London: Routledge.

Christensen H.S. (2013), Does political disenchantment lead to protest? A multilevel analy-sis. Paper prepared for the ECPR General Conference in Bordeaux, 4-7 September 2013.

Dalton R.J. (2000), “Citizens Attitudes And Political Behaviour”, Comparative Political Studies, 33(6/7): 912-940.

Dalton R.J., S. Scarrow, and B.E. Cain (2003). Democracy Transformed?: Expanding Politi-cal Opportunities in Advanced Industrial Democracies. CSD Working Paper. Retrieved 12 November 2015: (https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9tg922hv).

Dalton R.J. (2008), “Citizenship Norms and the Expansion of Political Participation”, Polit-ical Studies 56:76-98.

Dalton R.J. (2009), The Good Citizen: How a Younger Generation is Reshaping American Politics, Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Di Mauro, D., Memoli, V. 2016. Beyond Euroscepticism. Supporting the European Union through the Crisis. London: Palgrave (forthcoming)

Erikson R.S and Tedin K.L. (2003), American Public Opinion. New York: Longman.

ESS Round 1: European Social Survey Round 1 Data (2002). Data file edition 6.4. Norwe-gian Social Science Data Services, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

ESS Round 2: European Social Survey Round 2 Data (2004). Data file edition 3.4. Norwe-gian Social Science Data Services, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

ESS Round 3: European Social Survey Round 3 Data (2006). Data file edition 3.5. Norwe-gian Social Science Data Services, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

ESS Round 4: European Social Survey Round 4 Data (2008). Data file edition 4.3. Norwe-gian Social Science Data Services, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

ESS Round 5: European Social Survey Round 5 Data (2010). Data file edition 3.2. Norwe-gian Social Science Data Services, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

ESS Round 6: European Social Survey Round 6 Data (2012). Data file edition 2.1. Norwe-gian Social Science Data Services, Norway – Data Archive and distributor of ESS data for ESS ERIC.

Flavin P. and M.J. Keane (2012), “Life satisfaction and political participation: Evidence from the United States”, Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(1): 63–78.

Franklin M.N. (2004), Voter Turnout and the Dynamics of Electoral Competition in Estab-lished Democracies since 1945. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gavray A., B. Fournier, and M. Born (2012), “Non-conventional/illegal political participa-tion of male and female youths”, Human Affairs, 22(3): 405-418).

Gerring J. (1997), “Ideology: A Definitional Analysis”, Political Research Quarterly, 50(4):957-994.

Gray M. and M. Caul (2000), “Declining Voter Turnout in Advanced Industrial Democra-cies, 1950 to 1997: The Effects of Declining Group Mobilization”, Comparative Political Studies, 33: 1091-1122.

Hansen R. and J.C. Gordon (2014), “Deficits, Democracy, and Demographics: Europe’s Three Crises”, West European Politics, 37(6): 1199–1222.

Huntington, S.P. and J.M. Nelson (1976), No easy choice: Political participation in devel-oping countries, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Hutter S. and H. Kriesi (2013), “Movements of the Left, Movements of the Right Recon-sidered”, in J. van Stekelenburg, C. Roggeband and B. Klandermans (eds.), The Future of Social Movement Research. Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Processes. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Ikeda, K., T. Kobayashi, and M. Hoshimoto (2008), “Does political participation make a difference? The relationship between political choice, civic engagement and political efficacy”, Electoral Studies, 27: 77-88.

Inglehart R. and G. Catterberg (2002), “Trends in Political Action: The Developmental Trend and the Post-Honeyrnoon Decline”, lnternational Journal of Comparative Sociol-ogy, 43(3-5): 300-16.

Jost J.T., J. Glaser, A.W. Kruglanski, and F.J. Sulloway (2003), “Political conservatism as motivated social cognition”, Psychological bulletin, 129: 339-375.

Kolenikov S. and G. Angeles (2004), “The use of discrete data in PCA: Theory, simulations, and applications to socioeconomic indices”, Working paper WP-04–85. MEASURE /Evaluation project, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Letky, N. (2004), “Socialization for Participation? Trust, Membership, and Democratiza-tion - in East-Central Europe”, Political Research Quarterly 57(4): 665-679.

Marsh A. and M. Kaase (1979), “Measuring Political Action”, in S.H. Barnes, M. Kaase, K.L. Allerbeck, B.G. Farah, F. Heunks, R. Inglehart, M.K. Jennings, H.D. Klingemann, A. Marsh and L. Rosenmayr (eds.), Political Action. Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies, eds., London: Sage Publications.

Martín I. and J.W. van Deth (2007) “Political Involvement”, in J.W. van Deth, J.R. Montero, and A. Westholm (eds.), Citizenship and Involvement in European Democracies: A Comparative Analysis, London & New York: Routledge.

Mayer L. and J. Burnett (1977), Politics in Industrial Societies: A Comparative Perspective. New York, NY: John Wiley.

Morlino L. (2011), Changes for Democracy: Actors, Structures, Processes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Norris P. (2002), Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism, Cambridge: Cam-bridge University Press.

Norris P. (2004). Electoral Engineering: Voting Rules and Political Behavior, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Norris, P. (2011), Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Parry G., G. Moyser, and N. Day (1992). Political participation and democracy in Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Perugorria I. and B. Tejerina (2013), “Politics of the encounter:

Cognition, emotions, and networks in the Spanish”, Current Sociology, 61(4), 424-442.

Putnam R.D. (2000), Bowling Alone, New York: Simon and Schuster.

Quaranta, M. (2012), “The Rise of Unconventional Political Participation in Italy: Meas-urement Equivalence and Trends, 1976-2009”, Bulletin of Italian Politics, 4(2): 251-276.

Rocha F. (2012), “El desempleo juvenil en España. Situaciones y recomendaciones polí-ticas”, Informe, 50, Fundación 1º de Mayo.

Rosenstone S.J. and J.M. Hansen (2003), Mobilization, Participation, and Democracy in America, New York: Macmillan.

Roth F., F.D. Nowak-Lehmann, and T. Otter (2011), “Has the financial crisis shattered citi-zens’ trust in national and European governmental institutions? Evidence from the EU member states, 1999-2010”, CESP (Centre for European Policy Studies), n. 343, June.

Sanders D. and P. Bellucci (2012), “Informal political engagement in Europe, 1975-2007”, in D. Sanders, P. Magalhaes, and G. Tòka (eds.), Citizens and The European Polity. UK: Oxford University Press.

Stolle D., and M. Hooghe (2005), “Inaccurate, Exceptional, One-Sided or Irrelevant? The Debate about the Alleged Decline of Social Capital and Civic Engagement in Western Societies”, British Journal of Political Science 35: 149-167.

Stolle, D., M. Hooghe, and M. Micheletti (2005), “Politics in the Supermarket: Political Consumerism as a Form of Political Participation”, International Political Science Re-view, 26 (3): 245-269.

Stutzer A. and B.S. Frey (2006), “Political participation and procedural utility: An empirical study”, European Journal of Political Research 45: 391–418.

Teorell, J. (2006). “Political participation and three theories of democracy: A research in-ventory and agenda”, European Journal of Political Research, 45(5): 787–810.

Torcal M., T. Rodon, and M.J. Hierro (2015). “Word on the Street: The Persistence of Leftist-dominated Protest in Europe”, West European Politics, DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2015.1068525.

van der Meer T., J. W. van Deth, and P. Scheepers (2009), “The politicized participant: Ideology and political action in 20 democracies”, Comparative Political Studies, 42(11): 1426–1457.

Verba, S., N.H. Nie, and J.O. Kim (1978), Participation and political equality: A seven-nation comparison, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Verba, S., K.L. Schlozman, and H. Brady (1995), Voice and equality. Civic voluntarism in American politics, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Volz U. (2012), “Lessons of the European Crisis for Regional Monetary and Financial Inte-gration in East Asia”, ADBI WP No. 347, February.

Whitford A.B., J. Yates, and H.L. Ochs (2006), “Ideological Extremism and Public Partici-pation”, Social Science Quarterly, 87(1): 36-54.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.