The Naturalistic Conceptualizations of Democracy: An Exploratory InvestigationCanan Çelikadam, Sevim Cesur
Naturalistic conceptualizations involve lay people’s own understanding about a subject and differ from experts’ academic approaches. Examining these conceptualizations is important for being able to better understand complex concepts. This study uses a qualitative method with the aim of exploratively examining how a participant group consisting of individuals with different demographic characteristics living in Türkiye conceptualize democracy, as well as the similarities and differences in their conceptualizations. The study conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews for this purpose with a total of 30 people between 18-48 years of age (M = 30.27, SD = 6.59; 10 females, 20 males). The interviews asked the participants what comes to mind when they say democracy and what democracy means to them as open-ended questions and analyzed the answers using thematic analyses alongside the open coding method. As a result of the analyses, the data were gathered under the following themes: democracy defined by liberal values, democracy defined by government processes, democracy defined by institutional structures, democracy defined in terms of social-economic benefits, democracy defined as a Western system, and democracy as a criticized system. According to these themes, the participants defined democracy through different various dimensions, with a Western liberal meaning emerging involving institutions, procedures, freedoms, and rights, as well as definitions based on the consequences of democracy, such as social and economic benefits. Unlike most studies in the literature, definitions were at the same time observed to have been made that criticized democracy and included positive, negative, and neutral evaluations. One of the limitations of this study is that the data were obtained from a small number of questions. Having future studies conduct interviews with more questions that involve different dimensions of democracy will be beneficial for a more comprehensive understanding of naturalistic conceptualizations of democracy.
Demokrasinin Gündelik Kavramsallaştırması: Keşifsel Bir İncelemeCanan Çelikadam, Sevim Cesur
Gündelik kavramsallaştırmalar sıradan insanların bazı konularda uzmanların akademik yaklaşımlarından farklı olarak kendilerine özgü anlayışlarını içermekte olup; karmaşık yapıdaki kavramlarla ilgili daha iyi bir anlayış için incelenmesi önem taşımaktadır. Bu çalışmada Türkiye’de yaşayan ve farklı demografik özelliklere sahip bireylerden oluşturan katılımcı grubunun demokrasiyi nasıl kavramsallaştırdığını ve bu kavramsallaştırmalardaki benzerlik ve farklılıkları nitel bir yöntemle keşifsel olarak incelemek amaçlanmıştır. Bu amaçla yaşları 18-48 arasında değişen (Ort.= 30.27, SS= 6.59), 10’u kadın ve 20’si erkek olmak üzere toplam 30 kişiyle yarı yapılandırılmış derinlemesine görüşmeler yürütülmüştür. Katılımcılara “Demokrasi deyince aklınıza ne geliyor?, Size göre demokrasi ne demektir?” şeklindeki açık uçlu sorular yöneltilmiş ve cevaplar tematik analiz açık kodlama yöntemiyle analiz edilmiştir. Analizler sonucunda elde edilen veriler şu temalar altında toplanmıştır: ‘Liberal değerlerle tanımlanan demokrasi’, ‘yönetim süreçleriyle tanımlanan demokrasi’, ‘kurumsal yapılarla tanımlanan demokrasi’, ‘sosyal-ekonomik faydaları açısından tanımlanan demokrasi’, ‘batıya özgü bir sistem olarak tanımlanan demokrasi’, ‘eleştirilen bir sistem olarak demokrasi’. Elde edilen bu temalara göre demokrasi farklı ve çeşitli boyutlar üzerinden tanımlanmaktadır. Kurumlar ve prosedürler ile özgürlük ve haklar gibi Batıya özgü liberal tanımların yanı sıra sosyal ve ekonomik faydalar gibi demokrasinin sonuçları üzerinden yapılan tanımlar da ortaya çıkmıştır. Aynı zamanda, alan yazındaki çoğu çalışmadan farklı olarak, olumlu-olumsuz ve nötr değerlendirmeleri içeren demokrasi eleştirileriyle yapılan tanımlar da elde edilmiştir. Bu çalışmanın sınırlılıklarından biri verilerin az sayıda soruyla elde edilmiş olmasıdır. Bundan sonraki çalışmalarda demokrasinin farklı boyutlarını içeren daha fazla soruyla görüşmeler yürütülmesi demokrasi kavramsallaştırmasına dair daha kapsamlı bir anlayış için faydalı olacaktır.
Despite democracy’s long history, no consensus yet exists in the literature on its meaning (Andersen et al., 2018). The most widely used scientific definitions of democracy focus on the processes and institutions of democratic government (e.g., Dahl, 1971). Meanwhile, other researchers have emphasized in their definitions the relations between the state and citizens (Tilly, 2011), alongside the equal and full participation of citizens in governmental processes rather than its procedural structures (Moghaddam, 2016). While scientific approaches to democracy occur in this way, studies investigating what democracy means for lay people have become quite common in recent years. Various definitions of democracy have emerged in studies conducted with people living in various parts of the world, with liberal definitions involving rights and freedoms having come to the fore in most of these studies (Baviskar & Malone, 2004; Bratton & Mattes, 2001a, 2001b; Dalton et al., 2007; Kemahlıoğu & Keyman, 2011; Ottomoeller, 1998; Schedler & Sarsfield, 2007), while other definitions have involved institutional structures, governmental processes, and socio-economic characteristics beyond these liberal definitions (Canache, 2012; Dalton et al., 2007; Ottomoeller, 1998; Regt, 2013). Many researchers consider citizens’ knowledge about democracy and pro-democratic attitudes to be important and necessary for democratic consolidation in any country (e.g., Cho, 2012; Inglehart, 2000). Therefore, examining naturalistic conceptualizations of democracy is important in this respect. Therefore, this study aims to exploratively examine using a qualitative method how a participant group consisting of individuals with different demographic characteristics living in Türkiye conceptualize democracy, as well as the similarities and differences in their conceptualizations. For this purpose, the study has conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with participants living in Istanbul, the most crowded heterogeneous location in the country that receives massive numbers of immigrants from different geographical regions. The participants consist of a total of 30 people between the ages of 18-48 (M = 30.27, SD = 6.59; 20 males, 10 females). The participants were reached by purposive sampling method. The study asked the participants what comes to their mind when they say democracy and what democracy means to them as open-ended questions. The study at the same time asked the participants to fill out a demographic form involving questions about gender, age, education level, and ethnicity. The study then analyzed the obtained data using the thematic analyses method in the program MAXQDA. The study first obtained codes using the open coding method and then arrived at the themes by combining these common codes. According to the general findings, the participants were seen to have defined democracy in a variety of different ways, with the following themes having emerged: democracy defined by liberal values, democracy defined by government processes, democracy defined by institutional structures, democracy defined in terms of social-economic benefits, democracy defined as a Western system, and democracy as a criticized system. Accordingly, while the participants’ definitions of democracy resembled Western liberal meanings, they also included dimensions related to the results of democracy, such as social and economic benefits. This finding also overlaps with the general findings from studies in the literature that have examined how lay people conceptualize democracy (Baviskar & Mallone, 2004; Bratton & Mattes, 2001a, 2001b; Canache, 2012; Tessler et al., 2012). Three dimensions have been seen to constitute the primary choice of the meaning of democracy for participants in different countries, namely institutions and procedures, freedom and rights, and economic and social benefits (Dalton et al., 2007). Another different theme this study obtained is the theme of democracy as a criticized system, which involves positive, negative, and neutral evaluations of democracy. Under this theme, the participants evaluated democracy as a system with some disadvantages, as a system that can only be good under certain conditions, or as the system with the most ideal form compared to other systems. Previous studies have revealed the political, social, and economic environment of individuals (Bratton & Mattes, 2001a; Tessler et al., 2012) and their personal experiences (Akboğa & Şahin, 2018) to have a decisive influence on their definitions of democracy. From this point of view, these definitions may be understandable for participants who have experienced problematic democratic systems or othter systems different from democracy. This study is thought to contribute to the literature in terms of its exploratory analyses of the meanings of democracy for individuals living in Türkiye, in addition to the emergent similarities and differences between these meanings. Another contribution is the study’s use of a qualitative method, which allowed participants to make individual assessments in their own words. Conducting focus group interviews as well as individual interviews allowed the participants to be able to create meanings for democracy together, and this is how the study attempted to examine the concept in depth. One of the limitations of this study is that the data were obtained using a limited number of questions. Conducting interviews with broader questions about democracy will be useful for future studies.