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Diploma DemocracyThe Rise of Political Meritocracy$
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Mark Bovens and Anchrit Wille

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198790631.001.0001

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The Consequences of Diploma Democracy

The Consequences of Diploma Democracy

Chapter:
(p.139) 8 The Consequences of Diploma Democracy
Source:
Diploma Democracy
Author(s):

Mark Bovens

Anchrit Wille

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198790631.003.0008

Why bother about the rise of diploma democracy? We discuss the consequences of diploma democracy for each of the elements of democracy—representation, responsiveness, accountability, and legitimacy—that we distinguished in Chapter 3. Descriptive representation matters for symbolic, heuristic, and democratic reasons. The over-representation of university graduates in parliament is simply not in line with the preferences of large parts of the electorate. Moreover, educational background is not politically neutral. Different levels of education may lead to diverging preferences and standards, particularly with regard to cultural issues. Because the higher educated are over-represented among political participants and politicians, the political agenda tends to be biased towards their priorities and preferences. This may cause cynicism and distrust. A diploma democracy may not remain stable if large parts of the population feel they are no longer represented politically, and if they have no hope of being able to improve their social position.

Keywords:   descriptive representation, education, democratic deficit, biased political agendas, policy incongruence, legitimacy, political distrust

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