The Civic Culture Transformed: From Allegiant to Assertive Citizens

The Civic Culture Transformed: From Allegiant to Assertive Citizens


  • Russel Dalton

Audio File 

Russell Dalton speaks on his new book, "The Civic Culture Transformed: From Allegiant to Assertive Citizens" as part of CDDRL's Research Seminar Series



The original Civic Culture model portrayed the ideal democratic citizen as an “allegiant” personality who dutifully participates in elections to entrust elites with legitimate power. The allegiant citizen trusts elites, the decision making process and institutions and abstains from disruptive non-electoral participation. The new book, The Civic Culture Transformed, argues that this model is outdated. In established democracies around the world, citizens have turned away from allegiance towards a decidedly “assertive” posture to politics: they are less trustful of politicians, parties and institutions, and are more likely to challenge government with their political demands. Most important, societies in which this transition from an allegiant to an assertive model of citizenship is most advanced are better performing democracies—in terms of both accountable and effective governance.

Speaker Bio:

Russell Dalton's research and teaching has focused on the role of citizens in the political process. He has authored or edited more than twenty books and more than a 160 research articles. Dalton has been awarded the Developing Scholar Award by Florida State University, a Fulbright Research Fellowship, Scholar-in-Residence at the Barbra Streisand Center, German Marshall Fund Research Fellowship, the POSCO Fellowship at the East West Center, and the UCI Emeriti Award for Faculty Mentorship.

He was founding director of the Center for the Study of Democracy at UC Irvine and the Survey Research Center at Florida State University. His current research examines the changing norms of citizenship in the United States and other advanced industrial democracies, and how these norms are reshaping the democratic process in positive and negative ways. This has produced The Apartisan American: Dealignment and Changing Electoral Politics (CQ Press, 2012) and The Good Citizen (CQ Press, 2009). A related research program focuses on comparative electoral politics based on the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. The first book from this project was Citizens, Choice and Context and a second book, Political Parties and Democratic Linkage, won the GESIS-Klingemann Prize.