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"Uncritical citizenship" in a "low-information" society: Mozambicans in Comparative perspective

Year: 2008
Working paper number: 212
Author: Shenga, Carlos
Unit: DARU

In this paper, we explore the extent to which Mozambicans' apparent pattern of "uncritical citizenship" is a function of living in a "low-information society" (with the primary features being a lack of schooling and limited access to news about politics and public affairs). While modernization theory has classically cited education and the development of cognitive skills as one of a broad bundle of "social requisites of democracy" (alongside urbanization, industrialization, affluence, and the expansion of the middle class) (Lipset, 1959; Almond & Verba, 1963; Inkeles & Smith, 1974), Geoffrey Evans and Pauline Rose (2007: 2) demonstrate that the actual evidence of the impact of education in developing societies is "surprisingly thin." And while there is a great deal of evidence of a positive link between education and pro-democratic attitudes in older, developed democracies (as well as increasing evidence from Eastern Europe), some American political scientist now argue that the role of knowledge and cognitive skills is overstated. They claim that the poorly informed tend to reach the same political opinions and decisions as the well informed, largely because they utilize "low information reasoning" using personal experience of commonly accessible information (like prices, joblessness, housing construction etc…) as heuristic cues to evaluate government performance (Popkin, 1994; Lupia & McCubbins, 2000). And latter day modernization scholars see education more as a "marker" of material security which is actually the main driver of prodemocratic values (Inglehart & Welzel, 2005).

Publication file: WP212.pdf