West European Politics vol:38 issue:3 pages:465-490
PartiRep Conference on Political Participation location:Mannheim date:25-26 September 2014
In this article we examine the effect of the recent economic crisis on political participation levels in Europe. As the civic voluntarism model and grievances theory predict different effects of economic downturn on political participation, the crisis provides us with a unique context to evaluate the explanatory power of these two theories. We find that, when investigating a period of eight years (2002-2010), economic growth is positively associated with non-institutionalised political participation, which is in line with the civic voluntarism model. However, when focusing on the changes in political participation that occurred between 2008 and 2010 we find that rising unemployment is associated with rising levels of non-institutionalised political participation, suggesting that grievance theory is especially useful in exceptionally negative conditions as suddenly imposed grievances can lead to various forms of protest behaviour. We argue that these shock experiences can lead to momentary peak periods of mobilisation.