Development and democratization
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Development and Democratization. PO 201: Introduction to International Studies and Political Science. Democratization and Development.

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Development and Democratization

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Development and democratization

Development and Democratization

PO 201: Introduction to International Studies and Political Science


Democratization and development

Democratization and Development

  • Dahl’s explanation of what factors constitute a democracy say little about the specific processes by which modern democracies were transformed from other forms of government

  • Moreover, Dahl’s treatment ignores important factors that can have an immense effect on whether some of his requirements for the democratic polity are present or absent (institutional development, autonomy within society, respect for the rule of law, etc.)


Democratization and development1

Democratization and Development

  • To address this gap, some classic works of comparative politics have sought to determine underlying reasons for why democratic prerequisites developed in some countries and not in others

  • Indeed, the study of democratization represents one of the most fruitful endeavors undertaken by comparativists

  • In the main, these works have focused on the following interrelated historical factors/processes:

    • The social and economic development of societies, including:

      • The relationship between “monarchs” and “aristocrats”

      • The development of an economic middle class via commercialization

  • These views provide several assessments on the relative importance of the “civic culture,” economic development, individual interest, and other factors to the prospects of democratization


Pye and the development syndrome

Pye and the “Development Syndrome”

  • Pye shows that political development can be addressed in several ways

    • Like Dahl, he notes the importance of normative development (equality and the civic culture); he talks also about the problems associated with the value laden, Western emphasis on democracy as the apex of development

    • At the same time however, several authors have claimed (varyingly) that:

      • Political development is the result of (or a prerequisite for) economic development

      • Political development refers mainly to state capacity, in terms of power, policy execution, public affairs, management, stability


Pye and the development syndrome1

Pye and the “Development Syndrome”

  • Pye concludes that “All forms of development (political, economic, and social) are related…and it takes place within a historical context in which influences from outside a society impinge on the processes of social change just as changes in the different aspects of a society – the economy, the polity, and the social order – all impinge on each other”

  • Thus, while Dahl is right to stress the importance of the autonomous “civic culture,” it is likely only one part of the puzzle in understanding the internal and external determinants of polity transition

  • Barrington Moore’s work attempts to discern the outlines of this puzzle


Moore as a comparative exemplar

Moore as a Comparative Exemplar

  • Moore uses an “historical determinist” approach to explain the development of the three “modern” political systems – democracy, fascism, and communism

  • Empirically, Moore employs the comparative method against several cases (UK, France, Germany, Russia, etc.) to test his theoretical propositions


Moore as a comparative exemplar1

Moore as a Comparative Exemplar

  • A very basic description of Moore’s thesis:

  • The relationship – specifically, the power distribution – between monarchs and nobility led to differences in the degree to which the latter became a major player in political development

    • Early on (16th Century), absolutism prevailed in all European polities

    • Where the monarchy remained absolutist, we observe limited societal autonomy and stunted economic development, leading to fewer prospects for democracy

    • Where power between the monarchy and nobility became somehow divided, we observe greater societal autonomy and economic development, leading to greater prospects for democracy


Moore as a comparative exemplar2

Moore as a Comparative Exemplar

  • In these latter countries, the main mode of economic development was crucial in determining the growth of an economic middle class (bourgeoisie)

    • Where agricultural commerce was unimportant to the nobility, the feudal system prevailed

    • Where agricultural commerce was important to the nobility, nobles had two means by which to achieve it:

      • Those with the power to keep former peasants tied to their historical lands did so, resulting in the continuation of feudalism for the nobles’ commercial ends

      • Those without the power to keep former peasants tied to their lands generally saw those former peasants develop greater productive and commercial autonomy. The nobles took a “piece of the action,” but the process resulted in the ability of some former peasants to accrue their own capital and become a “middle class” (bourgeoisie)

  • With the advent of industrialization, we add to this mix the development of upper and lower urban classes (factory owner and industrial worker)


Moore as a comparative exemplar3

Moore as a Comparative Exemplar

  • Later, where the bourgeoisie and the nobles found common cause against the monarchy (normally based on mutual need), the coalition sought increased political power

  • Where the nobles found common cause with the monarchy against the bourgeoisie/“peasants,” political power remained concentrated in the upper classes and largely unchallenged


Moore as a comparative exemplar4

Moore as a Comparative Exemplar

  • With the advent of modern times, we see the previously described relationships playing in the following forms of (often violent) regime changes in the 19th and 20th Centuries:

  • Nobility/bourgeoisie against crown – “revolution from below” (democracy in UK)

  • Nobility/crown against peasants or bourgeoisie – fascist “revolution from above” (ultranationalist totalitarianism in Germany)

  • Royal absolutists, unable to co-opt support from any other groups, face mass, radical “peasant revolution” (communism in USSR)


Moore in perspective

Moore in Perspective

  • What does Moore’s theory say about democratization?

    • His approach downplays the importance of the civic culture, and posits that structural relations based on economic interests and power determine the prospects of democracy

      • At minimum, a “civic culture” is not enough, by itself, to ensure a transition to democracy

    • His explanation holds out little hope for democratization in countries without a functioning, developed capitalist economy along with the right set of structural conditions

      • Have we seen such democratization? If so, how has it come about? What are the prospects for the most important attempts at “nation-building” today?


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