Dissertation

Examining the Relationship Between People and Government

The relationship between governments and their people has significantly evolved over the centuries. The 20th and 21st centuries have seen incredible advances in technology, public health, and behavioral norms which have dramatically recharacterized this relationship. This then begs the question of how the structure and function of government affects this relationship and what outcomes are produced by the intersection of policy and population. To explore this topic, three democracies from three different parts of the world were examined—the United States, Sweden and Japan. Each country was evaluated within the lens of three different criterion: democratic participation, welfare regimes, and human rights. Parliamentary, multi-party systems appear to encourage greater trust in government alongside higher levels of democratic participation. Meanwhile, public healthcare programs—despite their high tax burden—greatly contribute to public health and create solidarity between people and government. Further, universalist welfare regimes are most effective at reducing income inequality compared to conservative and liberal market systems. Lastly, despite both operating as members of the western human rights sphere, Sweden and the United States conceptualize human rights very differently, which reflect their differing views on the role of government in society. Japan, meanwhile, is struggling to adapt to the western human rights paradigm that was imposed on its society after its defeat in World War 2.

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