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18 December 2014

What does it take to be a good citizen?

The International Social Survey Program (ISSP) is an on-going annual programme of cross-national collaboration on surveys covering topics important for social science research. In 2014 the questionnaire repeated a block of questions on citizenship. Figure 1 shows the prevalence of answers in rank order of the question: "What does it take to be a good citizen?"
Figure 1.: The proportion of those who considered the various characteristics of citizens as (very) important (%)
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Source: TARKI "Omnibus", June 2014. (OTKA no. K109611).
Note: Respondents used a scale from 1 ("not important at all") to 7 ("it is very important"). The figure shows the prevalence of the answers 5 or above.


Based on Figure 1 we might suggest that in Hungary almost every respondent characterizes the good citizen as a law- abiding person who never tries to evade taxes. Moreover, most of the respondents considered it important that the good citizensalways vote in elections. Participation in political or social organisations and to help poor people in the rest of the world are the least important.

The responses can be clustered into three groups: political activity (blue columns); law- abidingness (red columns); and post-modern values such as tolerance, civic activity (brown columns). In 2014, law- abidingness is more important than political activity. Figure 2 shows that the prevalence of the discussed items were similar in 2004 and 2014.

Figure 2.: The proportion of those who considered the various characteristics of citizens (very) important (%)
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Source: TARKI "Omnibus", June 2004.
Note: Respondents used a scale from 1 ("not important at all") to 7 ("it is very important"). The figure shows the prevalence of the answers 5 or above.


To keep watch ofthe actions of government is important this year (64%) and was also important in 2004 (52%). In Figure 3 we see how often respondents use the media, including television, newspapers, radio and the internet, to get political news or information. The most popular news source is television (57%) and the lowest proportion of people use the internet and newspapers at least once a day (13%). The highest proportion of people are those who never use the internet, more than half of the respondent (57%) said that they never use the internet to get political news or information.

Figure 3.: How often do you use the media, including television, newspapers, radio and the internet, to get political news or information? (%)
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On the basis of the educational level television is not that popular. Figure 4 shows that among people with higher level of education, the primer source of political news and information is the internet and among people with lower levelsof education, this source is rather the radio. The higher the level of education the higher the proportion of the internet and newspaper users, but the scale of the increase is higher in case of the internet. Generally we can say that people with a higher degree of education use a greater variety of sources to get political news and information than people with a lower degree of education.

Figure 4.: Which one do the respondents use most frequently by level of education (%)
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Blanka Szeitl (TARKI)