Month: September 2023

The Study of Democratisation

Democratisation is the process of moving toward a democracy. This can happen slowly over many years, or quickly over a short period of time. It involves a series of steps, including the development of political institutions and the consolidation of democratic culture. It also includes the development of a civil society, and the adoption of laws that protect citizens from arbitrary state action. Finally, it is important for a country to have a substantial level of economic development, in order to create a viable middle class that supports democracy. The study of democratisation has become a prominent area of inquiry in contemporary political science. One goal is to identify the conditions that promote democratisation, and another is to develop a framework for explaining democratic transitions. Two main approaches have developed to explain democratisation: the favourable conditions approach and the elite choice approach. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The favourable conditions approach allows the identification of initial conditions and sequences of events that constitute paths to democracy. It can also help to understand why some countries are more successful in achieving a stable democracy than others. However, it does not produce a comprehensive model of democratisation, and it may be difficult to predict which countries will become democracies. In contrast, the elite choice approach provides a more complete explanation of the democratisation process. It focuses on the strategic interactions of political elites, and it offers an explanation why some countries experience a rapid transition to democracy. Its main drawback is that it is very difficult to predict when a transition will occur, and it can lead to the view that all countries are in a permanent state of democratisation. The democratisation of the developing world has been fueled by the rapid growth of international trade, which in turn leads to economic development and poverty reduction. It has been further fuelled by foreign aid from developed countries, which is usually conditioned on democracy and good governance. This type of assistance is not widely available to the poorest nations, though, and their democratisation is impeded by poverty, civil war, and other problems that cannot be easily solved. Several studies have found that levels of democracy in a country are associated with its economic development. This is largely due to the fact that educated citizens are more likely to support democracy and to participate in civic activities. Those with higher education contribute twice as much of their income and time to civic institutions as those with high school education or less. Various scholars have suggested that there are three major waves of democratisation in history, starting with the first wave that brought democracy to Western Europe and North America in the 19th century. The second wave swept through Latin America and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, and the third wave began with the overthrow of a military dictatorship in 1974. A number of analysts believe that this wave may have crested or even reversed, and they worry about the future of democracy worldwide.

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