Quality & Quantity

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 1645–1661 | Cite as

Drawing democracy: popular conceptions of democracy in Germany

  • Lina Silveira
  • Horst-Alfred HeinrichEmail author


There are various ways to measure attitudes toward democracy. But what does democracy mean? Here, it is inquired into democracy as concept by getting insight into people’s understanding of it. In the paper, first, a four-dimensional concept is theoretically proposed. Furthermore, it is assumed that word-based questionnaires only provide limited access to the four dimensions of meaning. Consequently, a visualbased methodology is developed and applied. In the empirical part of the study, German citizens were invited to draw and verbally explain their images of democracy. This research yields evidence for following assumptions: (1) visual research reveals that democracy is indeed perceived as multifaceted concept in society together with reinforcement of results found by word-base methodologies; (2) the visual approach brings new insights to the realm of democratic theory; and (3) the four-dimensional approach is a possible framework to cluster the variety of definitions that might be offered by ordinary citizens to the concept of democracy.


Visual analysis Drawing Democracy theory Democracy concepts 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Methods of Empirical Social ResearchUniversity of PassauPassauGermany

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