What is it about?

Some argue that the workplace can be a breeding ground for pro-democratic attitudes and political behaviors. That is, the use of deliberative and other participatory skills in one’s work can give someone the confidence and the skills to want to participate in the political arena. Equivalently, the absence or repression of autonomous decision-making in the workplace can undercut attitudes and skills that promote political participation, thus weakening political engagement. But does this actually happen in practice, at least to a magnitude we can observe across many workers? To investigate this, we analyze European Social Survey data on over 14,000 workers across 27 European countries. We find that that employees with greater levels of individual voice at work are indeed significantly more likely to engage in a broad array of pro-democratic behaviors, and we find strong results even when controlling for a wide-range of employee and job characteristics.

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Why is it important?

What happens at work, doesn’t stay at work. Rather, work is an inseparable part of our lives and our communities. These results imply that the importance of organizational practices extends beyond the workplace, and public policy interventions might be warranted to prevent dictatorial work regimes that dampen political engagement.

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This page is a summary of: Learning about Democracy at Work: Cross-National Evidence on Individual Employee Voice Influencing Political Participation in Civil Society, ILR Review, December 2017, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/0019793917746619.
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