Political Behavior

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 115–138 | Cite as

Does Workplace Experience Enhance Political Participation? A Critical Test of a Venerable Hypothesis

  • Per Adman
Original Paper


Several schools of thought claim that citizens can develop their democratic skills at the workplace. Here I focus on the hypothesis put forward by Carole Pateman and by Sidney Verba and colleagues that state that by practicing civic skills and democratic decision-making at the workplace, citizens become more active in politics. I test the hypothesis with a nationally representative panel survey of the Swedish population. My findings contradict previous empirical research as no impact on political participation was discovered. I argue that the effects may have been overestimated in prior studies because the tests were based on cross-sectional data: insufficient care was taken with a number of significant methodological problems. The study points to the importance of using panel models when investigating the causes of political participation.


Political participation Civic skills Workplace participation Participatory democracy Panel data Carole Pateman 



The author would like to thank Li Bennich-Björkman, Christina Bergqvist, Gunnar Myrberg, Sven Oskarsson, Anders Westholm, and Pär Zetterberg, all at the Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden, and three anonymous reviewers, for valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper. Funding was provided by the Swedish Research Council.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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