Citizens’ duties across generations

New article by André Blais, Carol Galais and Danielle Mayer published at Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties

There is a wide academic agreement on the existence of two different types of citizenship norms (“dutiful” and “engaged”), along with a generalized conviction about the prevalence of “engaged” norms among the young cohorts. These conclusions rely on a questionnaire battery that is omnipresent in the most important public opinion surveys and which nevertheless presents several shortcomings that might convey social desirability. We contend that the “how important” questions used to tap attitudes about what the “good citizen” should do are probably affecting conclusions about citizenship norms’ endorsement and generational change. This research puts forward an alternative battery and puts it to empirical test on a Canadian sample. Using more neutral questions aimed at tapping whether citizens construe a series of political activities as duties or else, we find that many citizens do not feel that it is their duty to participate in politics and that there is no generational divide when it comes to different conceptions of civic duties.