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93 6 Democracy in the Public Eye As discussed in chapter 2 of this book, the framing of contentious issues may entail significant political and social consequences. Successful issue frames can not only engender temporary opinion shifts in the target population but also change individuals’ underlying understandings and beliefs. Through a rhetorical alignment of their activities and policies with people ’s thinking about national priorities, governments can legitimize their policy-making authority and mobilize public support for their actions. When people’s views are in sync with those promoted in official discursive frames, governments are better equipped to rule. In other words, by effectively framing political and social issues and habituating the targets of communication to certain patterns of thinking, state authorities can regulate social practices without resorting to coercion. Following the demise of the Soviet Union and the once-potent communist ideology, all the Central Asian governments used national narratives to shore up their own legitimacy and inspire cohesion and loyalty among the population. In doing so, they had to strike a delicate balance among several competing aspects of their new national identities, as well as contend with alternative worldviews on political, social, and economic development promoted by foreign actors with a vested interest in these states. As a result, the Central Asian governments and international actors have been engaged in an ideological competition to capture the informational media. The ultimate goal of this ideological match has been to attain the upper hand in terms of influencing regulatory processes in the individual Central Asian states and the broader region. This chapter explores the extent to which alternative democracy promotion frames have been implicated in the beliefs, understandings, and attitudes of segments of the Central Asian population. The findings of this chapter are based on an analysis of survey responses collected from 1,157 respondents (603 from Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan, and 554 from 94   Democracy in Central Asia Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) and on focus group interviews. Due to the highly restrictive environment in Uzbekistan and the politically sensitive nature of some of the questions, only 128 face-to-face surveys were administered in Tashkent. To approximate the conditions for probability sampling, the survey was stratified to include respondents from all administrative divisions of the capital cities and to retain the gender and age ratios in the general population (see table 6.1). The nature of the survey questions and the combinations of responses were informed by the main themes of alternative democracy promotion frames discussed in chapters 3 and 4.1 The survey also indirectly tapped into respondents’ political knowledge and Table 6.1. Country and Survey Demographics Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Country Totals Population (July 2012 est.) 17,522,010 5,496,737 28,394,180 Sex ratio (male-female, all ages; 2011 est.) 0.92 0.96 0.99 Age (%; 2011 est.) 15–19 years 20–24 25–34 35–44 45–54 55 and older 8.5 9.8 16.3 13.3 12.6 15.0 10.1 10.5 16.5 11.8 10.4 11.2 11.0 11.1 17.7 12.8 10.7 10.2 Median age (years) 29.3 25.2 26.2 Population of major cities Almaty: 1,414,000 (2011 est.) Astana: 650,000 (2009 est.) Bishkek: 865,100 (2009 est.) Tashkent: 2,201,000 (2009 est.) Survey Totals Population 554 613 128 Sex ratio (male-female) 1.18 0.92 0.90 Age (%) 16–19 years 20–24 25–34 35–44 45–54 55 and older 19.2 27.4 22.1 16.6 9.5 5.1 16.1 19.2 20.9 20.6 11.8 11.3 9.8 35.9 21.3 18.2 8.2 6.6 Sources: US Census Bureau, International Programs Center for Demographic and Economic Studies, 2012, International Data Base,; The World Factbook 2012 (Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2012), https://www.cia .gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/. Democracy in the Public Eye  95 consciousness by asking them to choose from lists of values and priorities or express their attitudes toward various democracy promotion frames. The survey instrument consisted of the eight sets of questions and took, on average, thirty-five to forty-five minutes to complete (see appendix A for a complete list of questions). Surveys were administered in Russian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Uzbek. To facilitate the interpretation of quantitative results and add depth to the discursive...


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