Democratic Competence: Attitudes 2

In my previous post, I found out what an “attitude” is and which attitudes are essential to have in a democracy. Attitudes are made up of the four components belief, emotion, evaluation and behaviour and it seems that it all starts with belief. I must admit I was a little surprised that democracy seems to have more in common with “faith” than with politics…The European Council (EC) names six attitudes that are essential for people to adopt in a democracy.

However, how do I actually “perform” these attitudes or what do they involve? Therefore, I have created tables in this post where I list those qualities that I need to have, according to the EC, and I copied the performance characteristics of these attitudes, so I don’t get lost. I might be mistaken, but it seems one needs a lot of “soft skills” and rather “fuzzy” qualities to perform democratic attitudes: Willingness to, Recognition of, Sensitivity towards, Curiosity about, Positive regard for, Belief in, Feeling of, Commitment to, Acceptance of, sense of accountability to etc.

In a sense, democracy seems to be an “attitude towards life” in itself. Watching the U.S. I can’t help but wonder this: either, democracy is an imagined ideal human condition that doesn’t come naturally to the human species (i.e. civic education is a MUST), or something on the planet has gone astray that more and more people are no longer willing or able to perform these attitudes.

Openness to otherness RespectSelf-efficacyTolerance of ambiguity
Sensitivity towards cultural diversity and to world views, beliefs, values and practices which differ from one’s own.Positive regard and esteem for someone or something based on the judgment that they have intrinsic importance, worth or value.Belief in one’s ability to understand issues, to make judgments and to select appropriate methods for accomplishing tasks.Recognition and acknowledgement that there can be multiple perspectives on and interpretations of any given situation or issue.
Curiosity about, and interest in discovering and learning about, other cultural orientations and affiliations and other world views, beliefs, values and practices.Positive regard and esteem for other people as equal human irrespective of their particular cultural affiliations, beliefs, opinions, lifestyles or practices. Acknowledging that they share a common dignity and have exactly the same set of human rights and freedoms as myself.Belief in one’s ability to organise and execute the courses of action required to attain particular goals, and to navigate the obstacles that might arise.Recognition and acknowledgement that one’s own perspective on a situation may be no better than other people’s perspectives.
Willingness to suspend judgment and disbelief of other people’s world views, beliefs, values and practices, and willingness to question the “naturalness” of one’s own world view, beliefs, values and practices.Positive regard and esteem for the beliefs, opinions, lifestyles and practices adopted by other people, as long as these do not undermine or violate the dignity, human rights or freedoms of others.A feeling of confidence about tackling new challenges.Acceptance of complexity, contradictions and lack of clarity.
Emotional readiness to relate to others who are perceived to be different from oneself.A feeling of confidence about democratic engagement and undertaking the actions judged to be necessary to achieve democratic goals (including challenging and holding to account those in positions of power and authority when their decisions or actions are judged to be unfair or unjust*).Willingness to undertake tasks when only incomplete or partial information is available.
Willingness to seek out or take up opportunities to engage, co-operate and interact with those who are perceived to have cultural affiliations that differ from one’s own, in a relationship of equality.A feeling of confidence about engaging in intercultural dialogue with those who are perceived to have cultural affiliations that differ from one’s own.Willingness to tolerate uncertainty and to deal with it constructively.
Civic-mindednessResponsibility
A feeling of belonging to and identification with the community.The adoption of a reflective and thoughtful approach towards one’s actions and the possible consequences of those actions.
Mindfulness of other people in the community, of the interconnectedness between those people, and of the effects of one’s actions on those people.The identification of one’s duties and obligations and how one ought to act in relation to a particular situation, based on a value or set of values.
A sense of solidarity with other people in the community, including a willingness to co-operate and work with them, feelings of concern and care for their rights and welfare, and a willingness to defend those who might be disempowered and disadvantaged within the community.Making decisions about the actions to take (which in some cases might entail not taking action), given the circumstances which apply.
An interest in, and attentiveness towards, the affairs and concerns of the community.The taking of action (or the avoidance of action) accordingly as an autonomous agent.
A sense of civic duty, a willingness to contribute actively to community life, a willingness to participate in decisions concerning the affairs, concerns and common good of the community, and a willingness to engage in dialogue with other members of the community regardless of their cultural affiliations.Willingness to hold oneself accountable for the nature or consequences of one’s decisions and actions.
A commitment to fulfil, to the best of one’s abilities, the responsibilities, duties or obligations that are attached to the roles or positions which one occupies within the community.Willingness to appraise and judge the self.
A sense of accountability to other people within the community and accepting that one is answerable to others for one’s decisions and actionsWillingness to act courageously when this is judged to be necessary.

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