Breustedt, Wiebke (2020). Improving the Measurement Validity of Quantitative Empirical Assessments of Democracy. Recommendations for Future Comparative Research on the Quality of Democracy and Political Support. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.


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In order to evaluate the state of democratic political regimes and to develop informed actions to meet their challenges, practitioners and researchers can draw on a number of concepts and corresponding quantitative empirical assessments in comparative political science. The usefulness of these assessments depends on their measurement validity across countries, however. The four articles included in the dissertation focus on the valid measurement of two key concepts, namely political support and the quality of democracy, which provide an encompassing picture of the state of democracy at the individual and macro level. Judging by the state of debate, in many respects, researchers do not agree on how to measure the two concepts in a valid manner across countries. Accordingly, the dissertation’s overarching research question is: How can researchers improve the measurement validity of quantitative empirical assessments of the quality of democracy and political support for comparative research? The articles included in this dissertation advance the debate by addressing four key unresolved issues. The first article (S. Pickel, Stark, & Breustedt, 2015) evaluates the comparative validity of measurement instruments of the quality of democracy. The second article (S. Pickel, Breustedt, & Smolka, 2016) reflects on the relevance of including citizen’s perspective for the valid measurement of the quality of democracy. The third article (Breustedt, 2018) considers the cross-national equivalence of political trust. The fourth article (Becker, Breustedt, & Zuber 2018) studies the implications of different methods of analysis for the valid aggregation of citizens’ support for democracy. The articles study these issues on the basis of a common theoretical foundation in the critical rationalist tradition. All articles proceed in the same fashion. In a first step, each article evaluates the validity of quantitative empirical assessments of democracy with regard to the issues raised above. Based on these validations, each develops recommendations on how to enhance the validity of the measurement process concerning the issue in question. Jointly, they thus help to improve the measurement validity of quantitative empirical assessments of democracy for comparative research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
Breustedt, Wiebkewiebke@breustedt.orgUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-357595
Date: 2020
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Political Science > Cologne Center for Comparative Politics
Subjects: Social sciences
Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:
measurement validityEnglish
empirische DemokratieforschungGerman
empirical democracy researchEnglish
Qualität der DemokratieGerman
quality of democracyEnglish
politische UnterstützungGerman
political supportEnglish
measurement invarianceEnglish
measurement equivalenceEnglish
politisches VertrauenGerman
political trustEnglish
Date of oral exam: 24 February 2021
NameAcademic Title
Kaiser, AndréProf. Dr.
Pickel, SusanneProf. Dr.
Refereed: Yes


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