I am currently working on a book project titled States of Satisfaction. The book explains why some societies are more content than others with the overall functioning of their political systems. The findings of this book are based on cross-national analyses of four decades’ worth of public opinion data from almost 30 European democracies as well as a focused case study of Denmark. Combining a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, I argue that processes of welfare municipalization (related to the empowerment of elected local governments to finance, plan, and deliver key public goods and services) fundamentally determines cross-national differences in citizen satisfaction.
States of Satisfaction presents a powerful challenge to contemporary policy and scholarly debates that paint a bleak picture of widespread political malaise in Europe, North America, and elsewhere. By focusing on the operation of politics at the subnational level, this book delivers a more nuanced assessment of the state of democracy in the world’s high-income societies. Explaining why this variation in democratic performance exists also provides clear evidence about the types of reforms that improve democratic quality. The book exposes the serious limitations of policies widely enacted in recent decades that aim to deepen democracy through a reconfiguration of power relations mainly at national and regional levels of government. States of Satisfaction demonstrates instead the importance of transferring wide-ranging powers to local elected governments in order to revitalize democratic citizenship and enhance democratic performance.