The surveys on which this article is based were generously supported by the United States Agency for International Development, the Swedish International Development Agency, the Danish Governance Fund at the World Bank, and the United States National Science Foundation. The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers of the American Journal of Political Science as well as Etannibi Alemika, Russell Dalton, David Featherman, Steve Finkel, James Gibson, Paul Graham, E. Gyimah-Boadi, Evan Lieberman, William Mishler, Pippa Norris, Jeremy Seekings, Doh C. Shin, Steve Snook, Sheryl Stumbras, and Jan Terrel for valuable comments on earlier versions of this article.
Learning about Democracy in Africa: Awareness, Performance, and Experience
Article first published online: 4 JAN 2007
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 51, Issue 1, pages 192–217, January 2007
How to Cite
Mattes, R. and Bratton, M. (2007), Learning about Democracy in Africa: Awareness, Performance, and Experience. American Journal of Political Science, 51: 192–217. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2007.00245.x
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2007
- Article first published online: 4 JAN 2007
Conventional views of African politics imply that Africans' political opinions are based either on enduring cultural values or their positions in the social structure. In contrast, we argue that Africans form attitudes to democracy based upon what they learn about what it is and does. This learning hypothesis is tested against competing cultural, institutional, and structural theories to explain citizens' demand for democracy (legitimation) and their perceived supply of democracy (institutionalization) with data from 12 Afrobarometer attitude surveys conducted between 1999 and 2001. A multilevel model that specifies and estimates the impacts of both individual- and national-level factors provides evidence of learning from three different sources. First, people learn about the content of democracy through cognitive awareness of public affairs. Second, people learn about the consequences of democracy through direct experience of the performance of governments and (to a lesser extent) the economy. Finally, people draw lessons about democracy from national political legacies.