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date: 25 April 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This article summarizes why political culture studies have been hesitant to analyze the aggregate effect of mass beliefs on democracy. It determines that this has much to do with the widespread assumption that the impact of mass beliefs on democracy can be inferred from individual-level findings. It also illustrates that this assumption actually represents an ‘individualistic fallacy’. It considers an argument that the impact of mass beliefs on democracy can only be analyzed at the aggregate level, because democracy only exists at this level. The article ends with a report of the findings from recent studies, which show that mass beliefs have indeed an aggregate effect on the emergence and survival of democracy.

Keywords: political culture studies, individual-level findings, mass beliefs, democracy, individualistic fallacy, aggregate level

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