Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Socialization and Political Regimes: The Impact of Generation on Support for Democracy in Latin America *

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Socialization and Political Regimes: The Impact of Generation on Support for Democracy in Latin America *

Article excerpt

A major, recurring theme in political socialization studies is the relationship between the experiences of different generations and their political attitudes and behavior (INGLEHART and WELZEL, 2005; JENNINGS and NIEMI, 1981; MANNHEIM, 1952; NEUNDORF and NIEMI, 2014). However, most studies in the field have been based on empirical research conducted in countries with long democratic traditions, which precludes the comparison of generations that have lived under different political regimes. Responding to this lacuna, recent studies have turned their attention to the role of the generational differences in the context of new democracies, such as the countries from the former USSR (MISHLER and ROSE, 1999, 2001, 2007), Asia (CHU et al., 2008) and Africa (BRATTON, MATTES and GYIMAH-BOADI, 2005). Studies conducted in Latin America have also considered the generational question, focusing on its effects on the formation of attitudes (MORENO and LAGOS, 2016) and, more broadly, on the development of civic and democratic political culture (BAQUERO, 2004).

Are there differences in democratic attitudes between generations that have only lived under democratic regimes and those that have also experienced authoritarianism? If such differences exist, in which direction do they tend to go? Do younger cohorts, socialized only under democracy, have more democratic attitudes? Or, on the contrary, is it older cohorts, who also lived under authoritarian regimes, that are more attached to democracy? These are some of the questions raised by studies on generations and democratic legitimacy in the context of new democracies.

Opinion is divided over how to answer them. The study by Mishler and Rose (2007), for example, shows that there are small but significant differences between generations in Russia, with those cohorts who lived under the communist regime showing a certain nostalgia for it and less satisfaction with democracy. In studies conducted in Asia and Africa, respectively, Chu et al. (2008) and Bratton et al. (2005) find few differences between generations, and little change in this over time.

In Latin America, few studies have investigated generational effects on support for democracy. One exception to this is a study by Moreno and Lagos (2016), which tests the hypothesis that individuals socialized under democratic regimes have more democratic attitudes. In general, their results confirmed this hypothesis. However, they also found that cohorts socialized under democratic regimes that existed prior to the authoritarian period displayed a greater commitment to democracy than cohorts that have spent their formative years during the most recent democratic period. One of the explanations suggested by the authors is that, because they have experienced the 'horrors' of the military rule, those among the older democratic cohort are more likely to recognize the virtues of democracy.

In this article, we return to this explanation, which we will call the 'argument of aversion to authoritarian rule'. However, unlike Moreno and Lagos (2016), our aim is not to compare generations who spent their formative years under different political regimes, but rather to compare those generations that were socialized only under democracy with those that also experienced authoritarianism. By comparing these two groups, it is possible to answer our two research questions: 01. does experience of authoritarianism and, therefore, the ability to compare it with democracy, increase support for democracy? 02. is this effect greater in contexts where authoritarian regimes were harsher and more repressive?

In order to answer both questions, we used the data from 17 countries of the 2012 Americas Barometer survey. First, we discuss, operationalize, and test the effect of generation, comparing those that lived only under democracy with those that lived under both regimes (democratic and authoritarian). Then, we refine the 'aversion' argument by adding a new element to the analysis: the role of the 'authoritarian legacy'. …

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