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EASP – European Association of Social Psychology

Disenchantment with Democracy: A Psychological Perspective

09.03.2020, by Tina Keil in publication

by Janusz Reykowski; Oxford University Press, 2020, 276 pages, ISBN: 978-0-19-007858-4


The latest publication in OUP’s Series in Political Psychology is an incisive look at the ideological contradictions, identity differences, and tendencies toward violent conflict that threaten the foundations of liberal democracy on a global scale.


  • Describes psycho-historical origin of the ideological conflicts between conservatism and liberalism
  • Analyzes, from a psychological perspective, the imperfections of the major liberal institutions -- democracy and free market -- that contribute to the resurgence of radical antidemocratic (anti-liberal) movements
  • Provides crucial context for understanding contemporary political tensions and their effects on the world's democracies


In recent years, there has been a rise in social movements and organizations that challenge the very foundations of liberal democracy on a global scale. Discrepancies of interests, ideological or worldview contradictions, and identity differences are more likely now to transform into destructive conflicts, and violence is used as a legitimate method for attaining political and economic goals. Drawing on the knowledge accumulated in social and political psychology, this book scrutinizes these phenomena and provides an even deeper understanding of the nature of these conflicts. The book also addresses the imperfections of liberal institutions, which can exacerbate these divides, providing crucial context for understanding contemporary political tensions and their effects on the world's democracies.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Violence as a Means of Attaining Group Goals
Chapter 2: Differences in Mentality— A Source of Ideological Conflicts
Chapter 3: Opposed Interests as a Source of Conflict
Chapter 4: Economic Freedom as an Ideology
Chapter 5: The Market System as a Psychological Mechanism
Chapter 6: The Sources of Disenchantment with Democracy
Chapter 7: Political Dialogue as an Instrument of the Democratic Policy Making

Janusz Reykowski is Professor of Psychology at the Polish Academy of Science and co-founder and Chairman (until 2013) of the Academic Council of the Warsaw School of Social Psychology. He is a member of the EASP, Academia Europea, a Past President of the Polish Psychological Association, Past President of the International Society of Political Psychology, and an Honorary Member of the Polish Society of Social Psychology. In the last three decades, his research has focused on political psychology, specifically on solving political conflicts and on the development of democratic attitudes. He has published 10 books and over 150 articles and chapters in various languages. He was also awarded the Sanford Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Political Psychology by the International Society of Political Psychology.