Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2001

Democracy and Democratization

Lecturer: Professor Pippa Norris,
John F. Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University, USA
Dates: 6. - 10. August 2001

Course description
Recent decades have witnessed a worldwide explosion in the number of democracies, transforming political systems in Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, as well as parts of Africa. Yet the growth of democracy is by no means a stable phenomenon, let alone a universal trend. Some new democracies progress towards consolidation, while others stall or revert to authoritarianism. Emerging democracies often experience persistent problems of regime legitimacy, political participation, and stable party competition, compounded by economic difficulties, producing an uncertain future. Certain older democracies, including Italy, Japan and Mexico, have also been undergoing significant challenges to their political systems.

This course examines the underlying social, cultural and economic conditions for the process of democratization; analyzes the institutional structures and constitutional designs most conducive to the transition from authoritarian to consolidated democracies; and considers the consequences of democratization for development.

The aim of the course is policy analysis. That is, you will sharpen your analytical skills in understanding the process and problems of transition from authoritarian rule, and consider practical reforms to strengthen democracies.

The perspective of the course is based on new institutionalism, which stresses the central role of constitutional design and institutional structures (rather than, say, economic development or cultural modernization) in promoting stable and effective democratic political systems. The course will use a broadly comparative methodology incorporating evidence from a wide range of case studies including developed and developing societies, and emerging and consolidated democracies. There are no prerequisites for taking the class.

Basic readings

You should pick one of the key study questions as the basis of your course essay (6000-10000 words in length) to be completed within 8 weeks of the end of the course. Sessions will involve also class participation through the readings, occasional group exercises, case studies, and debates about controversial issues. Many online resources and databases will be used and the ability to handle large-scale datasets (aggregate or survey based) using either SPSS or Excel to the basic level of multiple regression would be an advantage, although not essential. You should refer to the research resources available under 'links' on my website; www.pippanorris.com


Required readings:
Readings will include the following books as well as a limited number of selected readings available online.

Supplementary readings and standard reference sources/web sites are listed at the end of the syllabus for those interested in more specialized analysis of specific topics.

Detailed outline of lectures and readings:

Objectives: Consider how concepts of democracy can be defined and operationalized. Critically analyze measures and indicators of democratization. Understand alternative classifications of 'democratic' and 'non-democratic' regimes.


Discussion Questions
1. Can quantitative measures of democracy be used to produce a single index of democratization? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a measure?
2. Is there a single conception of democracy or multiple perspectives?
3. How can we best classify and define 'non-democratic' regimes?
4. Is 'democracy' primarily a Western ideal or are the values globally applicable in other cultures?

Objectives: Understand patterns of democratization and the implications of trends over time. Develop a classification of the underlying conditions leading to the transition and consolidation of democracy.


Discussion Questions
1. What are the primary factors leading towards the transition and consolidation of democracies?
2. What are the most important enabling factors leading to the process of democratization? What is the evidence for this claim? Are cultural, socioeconomic or institutional factors most significant?

Objectives: To understand public attitudes towards democratic governance, including support for the community, for democratic values, for democratic processes, for democratic institutions, and for political leaders.


Discussion Questions
1. How do we explain wide cross-national variations in public support for democratic governance?
2. Has there been a steady, secular slide in trust in government across all advanced industrialized societies?
3. What are the most plausible causes of the erosion of political trust in the United States?
4. Is widespread adherence to democratic values an essential prerequisite for democratic consolidation?

Objectives: To understand theories of post-modernization, civic society and social capital.


Discussion Questions
1. What is the theory of post-modernization and value change? How far does this explain the process of democratization?
2. What is meant by the concept of a 'civic culture'? How can this concept be measured and compared?
3. What are the primary problems of civil society and how critical is a vibrant civil society to the consolidation of democracy?
4. What are the alternative models of interest group representations between citizens and the state?

Objective: Understand the relationship between socioeconomic development and the process of democratization.


Discussion Questions
1. Which approach seems to provide a more plausible account of the relationship between economic development and democratization - quantitative cross-national studies or comparative historical investigations?
2. What are the main problems of disentangling the relationship between economic development and democratization?
3. Critically assess the points for and against Lipset's argument that the economy exerts a substantial independent influence upon the likelihood of a nation adopting democratic structures.
4. Is a strong middle class an essential precondition for democratic consolidation?

Objective: Understand the conditions leading to constitutional reform. Understand the distinction between 'Westminster' and 'consociational' democracy. Analyze the pros and cons of alternative constitutional designs for resolving ethnic conflict.


Discussion Questions:
1. What is meant by the concepts of 'consociational' democracy, and 'Westminster' democracy?
2. What are the pros and cons of each system?
3. What factors lead to effective constitutional designs? Reference work to consult for country constitutions: International Constitutional Law Documents (ONLINE)

Objectives: Understand the differences and consequences of presidential and parliamentary systems.


Discussion Questions
1. Which system will produce more stable and effective democracy in emerging systems: Presidential or Parliamentary governments?
2. Does federalism produce a diffusion of accountability and transparency in policymaking?

Objective: Understand the main alternatives concerning electoral systems and their consequences.


Discussion Questions
1. What are the major distinctions between plurality first-past the-post, the alternative vote, the single transferable vote, and party list electoral systems?
2. What are the main differences between the d'Hondt formula, the 'pure' Saint-Lague and the modified Saint-Lague, and the Hare quota systems of translating votes into seats?
3. What are the primary advantages and disadvantages of proportional or plurality electoral systems? Which system seems most appropriate for the country you have selected for your democratic audit, and why?
4. Are proportional electoral systems associated with fragmented or extreme multiparty systems?
5. What are the consequences for alternative electoral systems for the representation of women and ethnic minorities?

Objectives: Understand the role of parties in the democratization process.


Discussion Questions
1. Why do patterns of party competition vary so substantially cross-nationally? What are the consequences for the policy process and for democracy?
2. What are the causes and consequences of extreme party fragmentation?
3. How can effective grassroots party organizations be mobilised in new democracies?

Objectives: Compare media systems and their role in the process of democratization. Consider the impact of the Internet on civic society.


Discussion Questions
1. What should be the role and power of the media in the democratization process?
2. How far is there evidence that the Internet creates new opportunities for organization and mobilization among transnational policy networks in civic society?
3. Does the rise of the Internet create a 'dictator's dilemma'?

Supplementary Book list:
The following is intended as a brief guide to further reading to help you explore the literature more fully on particular topics.

Downloadable APSA Conference Papers Online:

For more details and resources see the website online at: www.pippanorris.com

The lecturer
Professor Pippa Norris is Associate Director (Research) of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University.

Her research compares political communications, democratization and elections, and gender politics. Books include: A Virtuous Circle (2000), Critical Citizens (1999), On Message (1999), Critical Elections (1999), The Politics of News (1998), Elections and Voting Behaviour (1998), Britain Votes 1997 (1997), Electoral Change Since 1945 (1997), Women, Media and Politics (1997), Politics and the Press (1997), Passages to Power (1997), Comparing Democracies (1996), Women in Politics (1996), Political Recruitment (1995), Different Voices, Different Lives (1994), Gender and Party Politics (1993), British Elections and Parties Yearbook (1991, 1992, 1993), British By-elections (1990), Politics and Sexual Equality (1987). Her latest research has produced a new book Digital Divide, analyzing the political role of the Internet worldwide, due out with CUP Fall 2001.

She co-edits The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics and has served on the Council and Administrative Committee of the American Political Science Association, the Executive of the International Political Science Association, the Executive of the Political Science Association of the UK (PSA), and the Executive of the British Politics Group of APSA. She has been President of the Women and Politics Research Group of APSA, Co-Founding Chair of the Elections, Parties and Public Opinion Group of the PSA, and has served on the Program Committee of the Midwest Political Science Association.

She has held visiting appointment as Research Fellow at the Center for Research on Social and Economic Trends (CREST), Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, Professor of Politics at the University of East Anglia and Fellow at the Australian National University. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Economic and Social Committee of the UK, the Pew Charitable Trust, the BBC, the Nuffield Foundation and others.

Prior to Harvard she taught at Edinburgh University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Philosophy from Warwick University, and Masters and Doctoral degrees in Politics from the London School of Economics (LSE). She teaches Internet Design for Democracy, Democracy and Democratization, Political Communications in Comparative Perspective and Women and Politics.