Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2017

Democracy and Democratization

NOTE: This course was CANCELLED

Lecturer: Professor David Samuels
Department of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Main discipline: Political Science,
Comparative Politics, Political Economy

Dates: 24 - 28 July 2017
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 25 participants

This course explores one of the oldest--and arguably the most important--question in comparative politics: What explains variation in political “regime type” - democracy and dictatorship - across time and space? What makes some political regimes durable while others are fragile? The course has no geographic focus and pays little attention to the question of the consequences of democracy or dictatorship. It focuses instead on defining and “measuring” democracy; the macro- and micro-political logics of regime change; the possibility of democratic “deepening” or consolidation; and the recent emergence of “hybrid” or “illiberal” democracies.

All students taking the seminar must do the assigned readings and participate in seminar discussion. Further details TBA.

Required reading
All students must obtain and read this book in advance of the course, and in particular chapters 1-3, 5-6.

  • Ben Ansell and David Samuels. 2014. Inequality and Democratization: An Elite-Competition Approach. Cambridge University Press. 

Course outline

Lecture 1: Political Philosophy and “Empirical Democratic Theory”
This lecture explores how social scientists have defined democracy, and how we distinguish between democracy and non-democracy. In particular it focuses on the principles of the “realist” or “minimalist” theory of democracy, and then contrasts these principles with other theories of democracy, and considers the conceptual, theoretical and empirical advantages and/or disadvantages of using the minimalist theory as a basis for comparative research.

Required Readings:

  • John Dunn, 1979. “Democratic Theory.” In Western Political Theory in the Face of the Future, pp. 1-28.
  • Joseph Schumpeter, 1942. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. Ch. 21-22
  • Robert A. Dahl, 1977. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. pp 1-16.
  • Adam Przeworski, 1999. “Minimalist Democracy: A Defense.” In Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordón, Democracy’s Value.

Lecture 2: Research on Regime Change: Vague Theories + Messy Data = ???
This lecture explores the different ways scholars have measured the distinction between democracy and dictatorship, as well as “gradations” of each type of regime. We will compare and contrast “dichotomous” versus “continuous” measures, and assess the conceptual and theoretical challenges all empirical research confronts, and the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to “operationalizing” the distinction between democracy and dictatorship.

Required Readings:

  • Adam Przeworski, et al. 2000. Democracy and Development. Chapter 1.
  • Gerardo Munck and Jay Verkuilen. 2002. “Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: Evaluating Alternative Indices,” CPS 35: 5-34.
  • Michael Coppedge, 2013. Democratization and Research Methods, Ch. 2.

Lecture 3: The Class-Conflict Approach and Macro-Historical Analysis
This lecture introduces students to classic “macro-historical” approaches to explaining regime change. It first explains what we mean by “structuralism” in social science, explores how scholars consider the relationship between “structures” (whether ideational or material) and political “agency,” and compares and contrasts different approaches to understanding who the important actors are and why they fight for regime change. It asks under what conditions might democratization be considered a “mass” or “elite” project, and explores the relevance of such “classic” theories for understanding more recent cases of transition in non-western contexts.

Required readings:

  • Karl Marx. 1852. The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. Chs. 1 & 7. Available on-line at www.marxists.org.
  • Barrington Moore Jr. 1967. Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Ch. 1
  • Dietrich Rueschemeyer et al., 1992. Capitalist Development and Democracy. Chs. 1-2.

Lecture 4: Modernization Theory - Democracy and Economic Development?
This lecture asks students to ponder the posited causal connection(s) between economic change and political change – to attempt to identify the precise hypotheses of modernization theory. It asks students to attempt to identify the theory’s causal arguments, weigh the available evidence for different time-periods and regions of the world, and consider where research on this question might head in the future.

Required Readings:

  • Adam Przeworski et al, 2000. Democracy and Development. Ch. 2.
  • Carles Boix and Susan Stokes, 2003. “Endogenous Democratization.” World Politics.
  • Michael Coppedge, 2013. Democratization and Research Methods, Ch. 9.

Lecture 5: Democratization as Redistributive Threat from the Poor?
This lecture explores the recent shift away from modernization theory’s emphasis on the alleged political impact of growth in GDP per capita (“average” income) and towards the alleged political impact of different relative distributions (equal or unequal) of income or wealth. We explore the strengths and weaknesses of “redistributivist” theories of regime change, focusing on the median-voter theory itself and the purported connection between the relative mobility of a country’s economic assets and the likelihood of democratization.

Required Readings:

  • Carles Boix. 2003. Democracy and Redistribution. Chs. 1-2 (skip appendices)  
  • Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. 2006. Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Chs. 1-2

Lecture 6: Democratization as Threat of Expropriation from the State?
In this lecture we contrast Ansell & Samuels’ retort to redistributivist theories of regime change, focusing on the theoretical differences between “fear of redistribution” and “fear of expropriation.” The lecture will consider the core differences between “median voter” and “elite competition” models of democratization.

Required Reading:

  • Ben Ansell and David Samuels. 2014. Inequality and Democratization: An Elite-Competition Approach. Chs. 1-3, 5-6

Lecture 7: Democratic Attitudes and Regime Change
This lecture explores the idea that mass political attitudes measured at the individual level are important sources of the emergence, survival, and/or quality of democracy, or all of the above. We start with classic arguments and explore how this approach has evolved over the years. In particular the lecture explores the relationship between core ideas of modernization theory and the importance of mass attitudes. We then consider the ways in which this research agenda has responded or adjusted to theoretical and/or methodological critiques.

Required Reading:

  • Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, 2005. Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy. Chs. 1, 7-8.
  • Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, 2010. “Changing Mass Priorities: The Link between Modernization and Democracy.” Perspectives on Politics 8(2): 551-567.
  • Edward Muller and Mitchell Seligson, 1994. “Civic Culture and Democracy: the Question of Causal Relationships.” APSR 88(3): 635-652.

Lecture 8: International Factors
This lecture explores the main supra-national mechanisms alleged to be driving regime change, and then considers which is most convincing in terms of theory and evidence. It then attempts to weigh the relative importance of domestic versus supra-national factors, returning to the discussion of “endogenous” democratization and “waves” of regime change.

Required reading:

  • Samuel Huntington. 1991. The Third Wave. Chapters 1-2.
  • Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way. 2006. “Linkage versus Leverage.” Comparative Politics
  • Daniel Brinks and Michael Coppedge. 2006. “Diffusion is No Illusion: Neighbor Emulation in the Third Wave of Democracy” Comparative Political Studies 39(4)
  • John Freeman and Dennis Quinn. 2010. “The Economic Origins of Democracy Reconsidered.” APSR 106(1): 58-80.
  • Carles Boix, 2011. “Democracy, Development, and the International System.” APSR 105(4)

Lecture 9: Democratic “Consolidation?”
The lecture first explores the definition of a “consolidated” democracy, and questions whether any democracy ever fits that definition. It then asks on what basis we might confidently affirm that a democracy is “consolidated,” considering the importance of institutions, economic development and inequality, and other factors alleged to contribute to regime stability. In particular we focus on Przeworski’s claim that economic growth and inequality are unrelated to transitions to democracy but important for the durability of democracy.

Required readings:

  • Guillermo O’Donnell. 1996. “Illusions about Consolidation.” J. Democracy 7: 34-51.
  • Adam Przeworski et al. 1996. “What Makes Democracies Endure?” J. Democracy 7: 39-55.
  • Andreas Schedler. 2001. “Measuring Democratic Consolidation.” Studies in Comparative International Development 36(1): 66-92.
  • Adam Przeworski, 2005. “Democracy as an Equilibrium,” Public Choice 123: 253-273.

Lecture 10: Illiberal Democracies - or a Reverse Third Wave?
In the final lecture we consider recent world events, and ask whether evidence suggests a “reverse” third wave is likely in the near future. Which democracies are the most vulnerable to collapse into full-blown dictatorship? Which democracies are likely to remain “stuck” as illiberal, rather than liberal democracies? What are the sources of “illiberalism” in contemporary democracies? Are different factors working “against” democracy today than in previous eras? What are the prospects for further erosion or consolidation of democracy around the world?

Required readings:

  • Fareed Zakaria. 1997. “Illiberal Democracy.” Foreign Affairs.
  • Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way. 2002. “Elections Without Democracy: The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism.” Journal of Democracy 13(2): 51-66.
  • Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way. 2015. “The Myth of Democratic Recession.” Journal of Democracy
  • Roberto Foa and Yascha Mounk. 2016. “The Democratic Disconnect.” Journal of Democracy 27(3): 5-17.
  • Ronald Inglehart. 2016. “How Much Should We Worry?” Journal of Democracy 27(3): 18-23.

The lecturer
David Samuels is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Political Science. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego in 1998. His research and teaching interests include Brazilian and Latin American politics, US-Latin American relations, and democratization.

Tags: Political Science, Democracy, Summer School, PhD, Social Science, Comparative Politics
Published Oct. 25, 2016 9:49 AM - Last modified Aug. 14, 2017 1:06 PM