Public opinion, democratic accountability and evaluation of defence: towards a new comparative research agenda

Project holders: 

  • Lou SAFRA (Sciences Po, CEVIPOF et LIEPP) 
  • Cyrille THIÉBAUT (CY Cergy Paris Université, AGORA et Sciences Po, CEVIPOF et LIEPP) 

Research team:

Project description: 

Although defence is a key public policy of our modern states, public opinion data on it are hardly available. The consequences of such data scarcity are twofold. First, it prevents scholars from understanding how attitudes towards defence are structured. Second, it prevents them from assessing the alignment between defence policies and citizens’ preferences. This is problematic for a domain already characterised by a lack of democratic scrutiny. Through a series of small-scale survey experiments and cognitive interviews, this project intends to fill this gap. Combining insights from public policy, public opinion studies and cognitive sciences, we address methodological issues regarding the measurement of opinions on defence, in order to improve it. Moreover, we argue that defence is a multidimensional policy that cannot be restricted to salient military operations. Hence we seek to estimate the variations of attitudes towards different aspects of defence, and their articulation with broader political values. Finally, our experiments aim at understanding how context influences preferences by comparing three countries contrasted in terms of defence policy: France, Germany and the UK.

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