WP97: Looking behind the window: Measuring instrumental and normative reasoning in support for democracy

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Working papers
Sarsfield, Rodolfo and Fabián Echegaray

This paper explores the types of rationality that underlie popular choices of political regime in societies that recently completed a transition towards democracy. We discuss the nature of the rational bases used for preference formation by focusing on urban Brazilians. Our attention is centered on the balance between survey respondents’ evaluation of democratic performance and their views of the efficacy of democracy to solve their country’s problems. We also examine the joint impact of these attitudes on molding citizens’ preferences for a particular type of government in Brazil. Results endorse the hypothesis that an instrumental rationality prevails alongside axiological rationality. Additionally, there is strong evidence of the “universality” of these findings given limited socio-demographic effects in the way individuals construct political support.