1Theories of Democratic Transitions Eric Davis 790: 540 Fall 2014

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1Theories of Democratic Transitions Eric Davis

790:540 Fall 2014

Course Description
Conceptual perspectives

In the past two decades, the concept of democratic transitions has become a central analytic focus in political science. This course examines the normative, epistemological and conceptual underpinnings of this concept. Because this conceptual framing is of recent origin, having proliferated after the collapse of communism, we need to ask to what extent the idea of a democratic transition represents a moment of Western triumphalism in the wake of communism’s collapse, and to what extent a legitimate theoretical approach applicable across time and space.

To interrogate the notion of democratic transitions suggests a number of questions: First, what is the nature of the two core concepts that comprise this theory, namely “democracy” and “transition.” Is the concept of democracy subject to a universal or “trans-historical” definition, or has it changed over time? Did democracy mean the same thing in ancient Athens, for example, as it does in the modern era, e.g., in contemporary United States, India, Spain or Japan? Is there a concept of “local democracy,” namely the idea of understandings of democracy that are geographically specific? In short, what are the normative underpinnings and empirical content of the concept of democracy?

Second, what do we mean by the concept of transition? Do all transitions assume the same form? Is the notion of transition the same in early modern Europe as it is in post-communist Eastern Europe and non-Western societies in the 21st century? What analytic elements need to be incorporated for us to explain the transition process in a truly theoretical manner?

Finally, how do we know when a transition is successful? What exactly is meant by a democratic consolidation? Are democracies ever fully consolidated? Does the process of democratization ever end, or is it part of an ongoing process that is constantly characterized by contestation and challenges to authority? Alexis de Tocqueville predicted an imminent universalization of democracy in the 1840s. After WWI, the “war to end all wars,” and following the defeat of fascism in World War II, there were further predictions suggesting that the ascendancy of democracy was imminent. Following the collapse of communism, a Pax Americana suggested that “universal democracy” was just around the corner.

Nevertheless, the struggle to sustain and further institutionalize democratic governance continues throughout the world, even in the United States. During the past few years, crises and instability in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America and Southeast Asia suggest the possibility of the collapse of fragile democracies and the possibility of the failure of democratic transitions that are in their early stages, e.g., in the Arab Spring countries.

What these thoughts suggest is that the theorist who is committed to democracy in a normative as well as analytic-empirical sense needs to be extremely cautious about accepting formulaic propositions about the transition to and the long-term sustainability of democratic governance. It also suggests the need to explore the antithesis of democratic governance, namely the causes of authoritarianism. After all, does not democratization occur after the collapse or atrophy of authoritarian rule? In viewing the process of democratic transition largely in linear terms, much of the literature fails to account for the ability of authoritarian legacies to undermine and impede the democratization process. Think, for example, of the legacy of distrust that exist in many post-authoritarian countries, such as South Africa, Iraq, and Ukraine.

While we may seek to develop a more “open-ended” approach to democratic change, this does not prevent us from formulating testable hypotheses about the causal factors that promote democracy, as well as those that impede its implementation and lead instead to political repression. Finally, how can we synthesize “small N” case study oriented research on democratic transitions with larger structural and especially quantitative research on the topic? Are these two approaches antithetical to one another or can they be reconciled and even enrich one another?

We will concentrate on six models in the study of democratic transitions: the socioeconomic requisites, political culture, institutional, comparative historical/political economy, elite bargaining models, and ethnic conflict models. The classic approach is typified by Seymour Martin Lipset’s famous essay, “Socioeconomic Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” published in 1959. The political culture model involves a variety of approaches, including those drawn from modernization theory, symbolic interaction theory, social psychology and hegemony theory. The institutional approach draws upon traditional formal-legal analysis, procedural analysis, as well as more recent historical-institutional models. The comparative historical/political economy model, which draws upon structural variables, focuses on historical trajectories which result in either democratic or authoritarian outcomes. Finally, The elite bargaining model, which focuses on decision-making and the role of political elites in transitions from authoritarianism to democratic governance, is based in an actor-centric approach. While there is considerable overlap between these approaches, we will seek to identify readings in terms of the dominant conceptual framework that they employ in the study of democratic transitions.

Despite these theoretical efforts, there is considerable amount of “variance” that is not explained by democratic transitions theories. Such theories have said very little about ethnic and sectarian strike, the role of corruption, gender inequality and “neighborhood effects,” i.e., the impact of surrounding countries on a nation-states’s efforts to implement a transition to democracy. The role of illiberal democracy as implied by concept of competitive authoritarianism also not well theorized to date. We will attempt to address some of these shortcomings during the course of the seminar.

Analysis of the seminar readings

To systematize our study of the democratic transitions literature, we will analyze course readings according to the following criteria. Students should pose and be able to answer the following questions for each seminar reading:

  • First, what is the main question and derivative questions posed by the author(s)?

  • Second, why are these questions significant for an understanding of democratic transitions?

  • Third, what types of relationships/hypotheses does the author test in her/his/their study? Do you agree that these are the most appropriate hypotheses to pose in relation to the author’s main question?

  • Fourth, what types of conclusions does she/he/they reach and do you find them convincing?

  • Fifth, what conceptual framework and methodological approach(es) inform the reading?

  • Sixth, what sources/database(s) does the author(s) use in the study of democratic transitions and do they provide, in you view, an effective basis for conducting the study at hand?

  • Finally what is your assessment of the author(s)’ ability to test and come to conclusions about the hypotheses offered in the reading given the concepts and methods she/he/they deploy?

Course requirements

Course requirements entail developing a journal on Sakai which critically analyzes each of the course readings. Journal entries should follow the format of questions listed above and be posted in your Drop Box. They should replicate normal note taking and be no more than 1-2 pages. The course also requires periodic Reaction Papers, which critically analyze seminar readings, serving as a co-discussant for a particular week’s readings, and completing a final examination at the end of the seminar. Students will be asked to submit 3 questions with accompanying rationales that will be used to comprise the final examination. Please expect to attend the seminar on a regular basis. .

Office hours: W. 2:00- 4:00 pm, and by appointment, Hickman Hall 501; email: davis@polisci.rutgers.edu; website: http://fas-polisci.rutgers.edu; course readings: www.sakai.rutgers.edu ; blog: http://new-middle-east.blogspot.com/ ; Twitter @NewMidEast
Course Outline
I. Introduction (Sept. 3, 10)

Dahl, Polyarchy, 1-32

Macpherson, C.B., “Democratic Theory: Ontology and Technology,” Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval, 24-38

Dankwart Rustow, “Transitions to Democracy: Towards a Dynamic Model,” in Lisa

Anderson, Transitions to Democracy, 14-41

Huntington, Samuel P., The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, 3-30

Knight, W. Andy, “Democracy and Good Governance,” The Oxford Handbook of the

United Nations, eds., Thomas Weiss and Sam Dawes. New York: Oxford

University Press, 620-633

Linz, Juan & Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation, 3-15

Coppedge, Michael, Democratization and Research Methods, 11-75


Tilly, Charles, “What is Democracy?, in Democracy, 1-24

Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson, Economic Origins of Dictatorship and

Democracy, 15-47

David Collier and Robert Adcock, “Democracy and Dichotomies: A Pragmatic

Approach to Choices about Concepts,” APSR (1999) 2: 537-565 .

Diamond, Larry, “Universal Democracy?”, Policy Review 119 (June 2003):


Diamond, Larry et al, Consolidating the Third Wave Democracies, xiii-xlvii

Huber, Evelyn et al, “The Paradoxes of Formal Democracy: Formal, Participatory and Social Dimensions,” in L. Anderson, Transitions to Democracy, 168-192

Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Uses and Abuses of History, 5-73

Walter Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Illuminations, 253-264

Sheldon Wolin, “Norm and Form: The Constitutionalizing of Democracy, in P. Euben et al, Athenian Political Thought and the Reconstruction of Democracy, 29-58

Barry R. Strauss, “The Melting Pot, the Mosaic and the Agora,” i

Athenian Political Thought 252-264
II. Classical conceptualizations of democracy (Sept. 17)

Lijphart, Arend, Patterns of Democracy, 1-47

Hirschmann, Nancy, Gender, Class & Freedom, 1-28

Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 31-98


Held, Models of Democracy, 16-120

Isaiah Berlin, “Two Concepts of Liberty,” in Four Essays on Liberty, 119-172

Robert Dahl, On Democracy, 35-43

Almond, Gabriel and Sidney Verba, The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and

Democracy in Five Countries, 1-44
III. Transitions to democracy I: Early modern Europe (Sept. 24)

Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, 3-110

Edward Muir, Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice, 1-61


Anderson, Perry, Lineages of the Absolutist State, 43-59

Skocpol, Theda, States and Social Revolutions, 47-111

Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the French Revolution, 97-120, 138-148

IV. Transitions to democracy II: Late modern Europe (Oct. 1)

Held, Models of Democracy, 121-232

Hirschmann, Gender, Social Class & Freedom, 213-229, 266-273

John Dewey, Democracy and Education, 81-99


Scott London, Organic Democracy: The Philosophy of John Dewey,” http://www.scottlondon.com/reports/dewey.html

V. Transitions to Democracy III: An American Exceptionalism? (Oct. 8)

Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 246-315, 572-584

Huntington, Samuel, Political Order in Changing Societies, 93-139

Seymour Martin Lipset, The First New Nation: The United States in Historical

and Comparative Perspective, 61-98


Moore, Social Origins, 111-155

Hartz, Louis, The Liberal Tradition in America, 89-144

George Wilson Pierson, Tocqueville in America, 3-39

VI. Transitions to Democracy IV: Colonial Legacies – the Case of the Middle East (Oct. 15)

Davis, Eric, Memories of State: Politics, History and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq, 29-108

Davis, Eric, “10 ‘Conceptual Sins’ in Analyzing Middle East Politics,” The New Middle East, Jan 28, 2009: http://new-middle-east.blogspot.com/2009/01/10-conceptual-sins-in-analyzing-middle.html

Abou El Fadl, Khaled, Islam and the Challenge of Democracy, 3-46

Zakaria, Farid, “The Islamic Exception,” The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad, 119-159

Fish, Stephen, “Islam and Authoritarianism,” World Politics, 55/1 (Oct., 2002): 4-37

Jamal, Amaney, and Vickie Langhor, “Moving Beyond Democracy: What Causes

Variations in the Level of Gender Equality across Arab States? (unpub. ms.)

Hanafi, Hasan, “Alternative Conceptions of Civil Society: A Reflective Islamic

Approach,” in Simone Chambers and Will Kymlicka, eds. Alternative Conceptions of Civil Society, 172-189


Davis, “Abd al-Karim Qasim, Sectarian Identities and the Rise of Corporatism in

Iraq” Kufa Review, 2/3 (Summer 2013): 9-28

Norton, Augustus Richard, “Thwarted Politics: The Case of Egypt’s Hizb

al-Wasat,” in R. Hefner, ed., Remaking Muslim Politics, 133-160

Davis, Eric, “The Historical Genesis of the Public Sphere in Iraq, 1900–1963: Implications for Building Democracy in the Post-Ba‘thist Era,” in Seteney Shami, Publics, Politics and Participation: Locating the Public Sphere in the Middle East and North Africa, N.Y.: Social Science Research Council Books, 2010, 385-427

Davis, “The Concept of Revival and the Study of Islam and Politics,” in B. Stowasser, The Islamic Impulse http://fas-polisci.rutgers.edu/~davis

Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt, 34-127

Partha Chaterjee, The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular

Politics in Most of the World, 53-78

Davis, E., Challenging Colonialism: Bank Misr and Egyptian

Industrialization, 1920-1941, 12-79

Davis, E., “Ideology, Social Class and Islamic Radicalism in Egypt,”


Binder, Leonard, Islamic Liberalism, 243-335

E. Davis, “Representations of the Middle East at American Worlds’ Fairs, 1876- 1904,” in Abbas Amanat and Magnus Berhardsson, eds., The United States and the Middle East: Cultural Encounters,

VII. Theories of Democratic Transitions: the Socioeconomic Requisites Model (Oct. 22)

Lipset, Seymour Martin, “Some Social Prerequisites of Democracy: Economic

Development and Political Legitimacy,” APSR, 53 (Mar. 1959): 69-105

Deutsch, Karl, “Social Mobilization and Political Development,” APSR, 55 (Sept.

1961): 634-647

Przezworkski, Adam et al, Democracy and Development, 78-128

Lipset, Seymour Martin, “The Social Requisites of Democracy Revisited,”

American Sociological Review, 59 (February 1994): 1-22


Dahl, Robert, Polyarchy, 62-123

VIII. Theories of Democratic Transitions: Political Cultural Models (Oct. 29)

Ronald Inglehart, “Culture and Democracy,” in Lawrence Harrison and Samuel Huntington, eds., Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, 80-97

Francis Fukuyama, “Social Capital,” in Harrison and Huntington, Culture Matters, 98-111

Charles Tilly, Trust and Rule, 125-150

Bocock, Robert, Hegemony, 21-39, 55-102

Rothstein, Bo, The Quality of Government: Corruption, Social Trust, and

Inequality in International Perspective, 58-76

E. Davis, “The New Iraq: The Uses of Historical Memory,” The Journal of

Democracy, 16/3 (July 2005): http://fas-polisci.rutgers.edu/davis


Putnam, Robert, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, 163-186

Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 305-340

Held, Models of Democracy, 231-273

Kubik, Jan, The Symbols of Power and the Power of Symbols, 183-238

Kessler, Mark, “Democratic Concern and Islamic Resurgence: Converging Dimensions of the Arab World’s Political Agenda,” Democracy and Its Limits: Lessons from Asia, Latina America and the Middle East, 262-299

Binder, “The Natural History of Development Theory,” Islamic

Liberalism, 24-84

Wendy Brown, States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity, 166-196

Adam Przeworski et al, Democracy and Development: Political Institutions and Well-Being in the World, 1950-1990, 13-77

Leonard Wantchekon, “The Paradox of 'Warlord' Democracy: A Theoretical Investigation,” in APSR 98/1 (February 2004): 17-33

Sheri Berman, “Civil Society and the Collapse of the Weimar Republic,” World Politics 49/3 (1997): 401-429

Sheldon Garon, “From Meiji to Heisei: The State and Civil Society in Japan,” in Frank J. Schwartz and Susan J. Pharr, The State of Civil Society in Japan, 42-62

IX. 1Theories of democratic transitions: institutional models (Nov. 5)

North, Douglass, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance,


Lijphart, Arendt, Patterns of Democracy, 90-115, 143-170

Capoccia, Giovanni and R. Daniel Kelemen, The Study of Critical Junctures:

Theory, Narrative, and Counterfactuals in Historical Institutionalism,

World Politics, 59/3 (Apr. 2007):


Garrett, Geoffrey, R. Daniel Kelemen, and Heiner Schultz, “The European

Court of Justice, National Governments and Legal Integration in

the European Union,” International Organization, 52/1 (Winter

1998): 149-176.
X. Theories of democratic transitions: comparative-historical/political economy models

(Nov. 5, 12)

Mahoney, James and Dietrich Ruschemeyer, Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social Sciences, 131-176

Levitsky, Steven and Lucan A. Way, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid

Regimes After the Cold War, 1-83.

Haggard, Stefan and Robert R. Kaufman, The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions, 25-44

Boix, Carles and Susan C, Stokes, “Endogenous Democracy,” World Politics

55 ( July 2003), 517–49

Houle, Christian, “Inequality and Democracy: Why Inequality Harms Consolidation but Does Not Affect Democratization,” World Politics,

61/4 (Oct., 2009): 589-622

Ross, Michael L., The Oil Curse: How Petroleum Wealth Shapes the

Development of Nations, 63-109

Boix, Carles, Ðemocracy, Development and the International System, American

Political Science Review, 809-828


Acemoglu and Robinson, Economic Origins, 255-320

Skocpol, Theda, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers, xx-xxi, 1-62, 525-539

Downs, Anthony, An Economic Theory of Democracy, 3-35, 279-300

Ruschemeyer, Dietrich, Evelyne Huber Stephens and John D. Stephens, Capitalist Development and Democracy, 12-78

Kitschelt, Herbert, “Comparative Historical Research and Rational Choice Theory: The Case of Transitions to Democracy,” Theory and

Society, 22/3 (Jun., 1993): 413-427

Macpherson, C.B., “Problems of a Non-Market Theory of Democracy,” Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval, 39-76

Soros, George, “Capitalism versus Open Society,” The Soros Lectures, 75- 95
XI. Theories of democratic transitions: the elite bargaining model (Nov. 19)

Linz, Juan, and Alfred Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transitions and Consolidation, 66-83

Pérez-Díaz, Victor, “From Civil War to Civil Society: Social Capital in Spain from the 1930s to the 1990s,” in Robert Putnam, ed., Democracies in Flux, 245-287

Linz & Stepan, Problems of Democratic Transitions and Consolidations, 87-115


Gunther, Richard, et al, Democracy in Spain, 79-130

Thomas, Hugh, The Spanish Civil War, 189-220, 247-269

O’Donnell, Guillermo, and Philippe Schmitter, Transitions From Authoritarian Rule, 3-47

Huntington, Samuel, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, 109-161, 164-208, 258-265

Snyder, Jack, From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict 45-91

Verdery, Katherine, “Theorizing Socialism: A Prologue to the ‘Transition,’”American Ethnologist 18/3 (1991): 419-439

Zambelis, Chris, “Strategic Implications of Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Middle East,” Parameters (Autumn 2005):


1XII. Ethnic Conflict and Democratic Transitions (Dec. 3)

Snyder, Jack, From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict, 15-43

Gagnon, V.P., The Myth of Ethnic War, xiii-xxi, 1-51

Davis, Eric, “Introduction: the Question of Sectarian Identities in Iraq,

International Journal of Contemporary Studies, 4/3 (2010): 229-242


Kaufman, Stuart, Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War, 1-48, 65-201

Guibernau, Montserrat, Catalan Nationalism: Francoism, Transition and

Democracy, 34-69

Batatu, Hanna, The Old Social Classes and Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, 465-482, 764-807

Davis, E, Strategies for Promoting Democracy in Iraq, US Institute of

Peace Special Report, 153 (October 2005);


Eric Davis – Will the Arab Spring Bring Democratization to the Middle

East? (unpub. ms.)

Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 222-266

Petersen, Roger D., Understanding Ethnic Violence, 17-39

Thomas, Robert, Serbia Under Miloševic, 1-24, 163-175

Diamandouros, P. Nikiforos, and F. Stephen Larrabee, “Democratization in South-Eastern Europe: Theoretical considerations and Evolving Trends”, in Experimenting with Democracy: Regime Change in the Balkans, 24-64

Robinson, Pearl J., “Democratization: Understanding the Relationship

Between Regime Change and the Culture of Politics,” African

Studies Review (1994) 1, 2: 39-67, 87-102
XIII. Case studies of democratic transitions: Tunisia and Chile – instructor (Dec. 3)
XIV. Summations and course evaluation (Dec 10)
XV. Working lunch in preparation for Take Home Final Examination (optional)

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