Political Participation Capital

by Jan Ryszard Garlicki (Author)
©2021 Monographs 266 Pages


The book discusses the issue of the correlation between social capital and political participation. The reader is given an extensive overview of the social capital term as well as the conventional and unconventional political participation terms including the historical conceptualization of the paradigm as well as its modern interpretations. Furthermore, the author explores the issue through empirical studies – conducted in 2017 and 2018 as a part of research grant titled 'Political Participation of Poles – New Challenges and Forms of Activity'. Through the study, the Author establishes the indicators of independent variables shaping political participation among Poles. Lastly, the author provides theoretical syntheses in the form of typology of political participation models.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter I. Political participation: theoretical perspectives
  • Chapter II. Conventional forms of participation of Poles
  • Chapter III. Unconventional participation and participation on the Internet
  • Chapter IV. Social capital versus political participation capital
  • Chapter V. Political participation models’ typology: a priori approach
  • Chapter VI. Political participation models’ typology: a posteriori approach
  • Concluding remarks
  • Annex 1. Research methods description and research sample characteristics
  • Annex 2. Quantitative research tool
  • Annex 3.
  • Annex 4.
  • Annex 5.
  • Annex 6.
  • Annex 7. Correlations between variables (qualifications versus sociodemographic variables)
  • Annex 8. Correlations between variables (questionary variables versus variables, according to which I qualified the attitudes)
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Series index

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Over the last two decades, scientists’ reflections and studies concerning political participation became considerably fragmented. In this field, researchers tend to explore narrowly put phenomena: they are occupied with minority groups’ (women, sexual minorities, immigrants) political participation, the internet’s influence, disinformation, or studies on individual forms of political participation. These are very important and current issues, but it appears that we lack holistic research of the phenomenon, let alone syntheses.

Indeed, political participation involves deeper determinants. It is influenced by external economic, social, political, legal determinants, citizens’ attitudes and awareness, the sense or the lack of sense of bonds, trust in the institution of the state or its lack, etc. We cannot examine political participation without referring to other relevant issues. The lack of multi-dimensional empirical studies and theoretical syntheses leads to a situation in which we view political participation in a largely fragmentarized way. Therefore, this book’s theoretical goal is precisely to establish the context of political participation; it is to indicate which independent variables shape political participation and, on this basis, to create a model of Polish political participation. Political participation sometimes revolutionizes itself also in democratic countries, where different, fairly radical movements or parties arise. For instance, we could observe it in the past couple of years in Spain (Podemos), the USA (Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street Movement, QAnon), and the yellow vests movement in many European countries. Political scientists should conduct profound research on such phenomena and processes. What is their social and political foundation? What is their ideological nature? What will it change or what may it change in the political participation’s forms and models?

In the case of Poland, the issue of whether the participation level in this political system increases or decreases, which researchers and politicians discuss, remains important. Here, it is worth mentioning at least five stereotypical opinions, which one may often hear in media:

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The citizens’ knowledge concerning processes, procedures, and political institutions is superficial and stereotypical.

Poles are politically inactive.

The level of citizens’ trust in political institutions is low.

There is no acceptance capital regarding politicians, politics, and political parties.

Citizens accept violence (at least verbally) in the realm of political participation.

We may take these colloquial statements as hypotheses for further research. The statements should be verified, although, in the beginning, we may take them as falsification goals.

Obviously, this is an empirical plane, but one should (or even must) accept the challenge, which involves a look at political participation in theoretical categories. How will the way in which we think about this category and analyze it change? Participation has different dimensions. Participation means something more than the political plane. For example, there is civil participation, which is mainly the domain of NGOs. There is also social activism, which is sometimes continuous and unrelated to any particular organization. Finally, there is economic activity, which is very important in the case of microenterprises and SMEs. These activities have significant effects on the economy and create jobs.

This publication aims not only to look at reality from the viewpoint of current political problems and the actual level of political participation and its determinants but also to consider to what extent does the term social capital, proposed by, among others, Pierre Bourdieu,1 James Coleman,2 Francis Fukuyama,3 Nan Lin,4 Robert Putnam,5 is important and adequate ←8 | 9→to analyze the citizens’ tendencies to participate in political life or their lack of will and motivation for such a participation. The potential influence on the tendency to, e.g., conduct a discourse about politics is already a political participation’s form or its introduction and foundation.6 Therefore, I intended to introduce the category of “political participation capital,” as an expansion and, at the same time, nominal accumulation of social capital research concerning political issues.

Political participation capital (PPC) may constitute an empirical indicator of the extent to which political participation (and other phenomena) will grow, and to which alienation and apolitical attitudes, which lead to anomy in society, will develop.

The research explored the issue of the existence and nature of social capital, which may be considered the basis of political participation. I conducted the study in 2017 and 2018 as a part of Partycypacja polityczna Polaków – nowe wyzwania i formy aktywności (Political Participation of Poles – New Challenges and Forms of Activity) research grant, financed by the National Science Center of Poland (2014/13/B/HS5/00555), awarded to the University of Warsaw team of experts under the guidance of an Author. Three methods were used during the study: first, I used the qualitative technique of Focus Group Interviews (FGI), then I used the quantitative method of narrowly understood Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) on a sample of 1237 respondents. Finally, the research was supported by the Individual In-Depth Interview (IDI) technique.7

Thus, I used a full triangulation of research methods. After I conducted focused group interviews and obtained the results, I constructed indexes to conduct research based on Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing. ←9 | 10→It was the CATI method that allowed me to collect the data required to analyze participation capital in Polish society.

At the beginning of studies, analyses, and deliberations on political participation, which constitute this book’s subject, we should organize the relevant categories of analysis and their scope. To begin with, I must state that it is not an easy task. During the stage of conceptualization and the subsequent stage of categories and research indexes’ preparation, I distinguished two main levels of participation’s description: forms and models. Based on these levels, I was able to create certain typologies.

Scientists who deal with political science and the sociology of politics most often use the term forms of participation. Forms of participation mean a certain arrangement of coordinated elements, a manner, a variant of conduct. It is participation that assumes a specific nature and describes a certain manner of citizens’ participation in politics. We may distinguish numerous forms, but they all refer to a certain sphere of behavior, e.g., the participation in parliamentary election or demonstration, occupation of public buildings, etc.

In turn, the model political participation involves a group (or even a syndrome) of forms that share a certain common denominator. In source literature from the field of social sciences, especially political science and sociology, scholars employ the term model in a somewhat random fashion, usually without providing a definition, e.g., see, among others, Jakub Wiśniewski’s Ewolucja szwedzkiego i brytyjskiego modelu polityki społecznej w latach 1993–2003 or Phil Harkins and Phil Swift’s In Search of Leadership. On the contrary, in economics and mathematics the term model is precisely defined, formalized, and quantifiable. Therefore, in this paper, I adopt the concept of the model as a simplified picture of a real world’s part, on which I focused based on adopted premises. As a result, the model constitutes a certain hypothetical mental construct, the function of which is to allow us to notice, describe, and explain the features, relationships, and functioning of an object or social phenomenon, which constitutes a matter of concern to the researcher. My use of the term model comes close to the way it is used by researchers of organizational culture, who work at the crossroads of anthropology and management sciences.8 Antonina ←10 | 11→Kłoskowska construes this term along similar lines and defines it as a verbal, pictorial, or any other representation of human behavior (institutions, personalities), which may serve as an example and object of reference to evaluations, and as constructions employed for practical purposes.9

For the purposes of this book, I suggest that by the model we should mean a relatively identical (similarity, analogy of behavior) and relatively established (as a social and cultural phenomenon) set of citizens’ individual and/or collective behavior patterns in the context of political, economic, and social processes and phenomena, by which the citizens influence the political processes or at least express their positive or negative opinion.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2021 (December)
Social Capital Political participation Empirical study Conventional paricipation Unconventional participation Qualitative research
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2021. 266 pp., 3 fig. col., 55 tables.

Biographical notes

Jan Ryszard Garlicki (Author)

Jan Garlicki is a professor of political science in the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Warsaw. His research interests include political sociology, culture, and participation, changes in the consciousness of Central European societies, attitudes and behavior of youth, and political and election marketing.


Title: Political Participation Capital
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268 pages