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Democratic Transition 1999-35-4

Democratic Transition 1999-35-4

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Published by Yossra M.Taha

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Published by: Yossra M.Taha on Nov 16, 2011
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Issues
&
Studies
35,no.4(July/August1999):133-148.
ResearchNote
DemocraticTransition:ACriticalOverview
SUJIAN
Guo
Thepasttwodecadeshavewitnessedthemostremarkabledevelop-menttowarddemocracy,whichhasbeenreferredtoas"theThirdWave"/ofdemocratization.
I
Inthepasttenyears,thecountriesofEasternEuropeandtheformerSovietUnionhavesimultaneouslyundergonepolitical,econom-ic,andsocialtransformationsandbroughtabouttheundeniablesuccessofdemocratictransition.Thesubsequentconsolidationofthistransitionhas,however,beencomplicatedandfarfromcompleted.Muchoftheliteratureondemocratictransitionhasbeenreferredtoas"transitiontheory."Thisreviewessayseekstoofferanassessmentoftheempiricallitera-tureondemocratictransitionthathasaccumulatedduringthepastseveraldecades.Tothisend,thereviewessaywilldiscussthemajortheoreticalapproachesoftransitiontheory,offeracriticalreviewoftheliterature,andfinallydiscusssomerelatedmethodologicalcontroversiesandimplica-tions.
SujianGuoreceivedhisdoctorateinpoliticalscienceattheUniversityofTennessee,Knoxville.HeiscurrentlyassistantprofessorofpoliticalscienceatProvidenceCollege,RhodeIsland.Hisareasofspecializationarecomparativepolitics,internationalrelations,andmethodology.Hisresearchinterestshavefocusedoncommunistandpost-communiststudies,democratictransitions,regimechangeinpost-MaoChina,ThirdWorldpolitics,andinternationalpoliticaleconomy.Heistheauthorof
Post-MaoChina:FromTotalitarianismtoAuthoritarianism?
(Westport,Conn.:Praeger,2000).'Samus]P.Huntington,
TheThirdWave:DemocratizationintheLateTwentiethCentury
(Norman:UniversityofOklahomaPress,1991).
July/August1999
133
 
ISSUES
&
STUDIES
TheoreticalApproachestoDemocraticTransition
Transitiontheories,astheoreticalmodels,havebeeninfluencedbytheoreticalframeworksdrawnfromthesocialsciencedisciplinessuchassystemtheory,politicalculturetheory,decisiontheory,modernizationtheory,structural-functionalism,andinstitutionalism.'Differenttheoreticalapproachestotransitiontheoryhaveprovidedvariousanalyticalframe-worksforacomparativestudyofregimetransitionacrossregions,andidentifiedfactorsorvariablestoexplainoutcomesofparticulartransforma-tionsthathaveoccurredindifferentcountriesunderdifferentcircum-stances.However,"theoreticalapproachestodemocratictransitionhavenotpresentedanycoherentorevenelaboratebodyofwork.t'''Transitiontheoryhasinfacttendedto"diverge"betweendifferentschoolsofthought.Helga
A.
Welshnotesthatsomescholarlyattentioninitiallyfocusedonthevariouscausesofregimechange,whileothersplacedmajorempha-sisonsuchprerequisitesfordemocratizationassocioeconomicdevelop-ment,politicalculture,andtheroleofcivilsociety.Morerecently,thecom-parabilityofregimetransitionsintheformerSovietbloctothoseinotherregionsoftheworldhasbeengivengreaterattention.'AdamPrzeworskipointsoutthatstudiesondemocratictransitioncanbelooselygroupedintotwocategories:studiesthatfocusontheobjectiveconditionsofregimetransformationandstudiesthatconcentrateonpoliticalstrategiesandchoices."However,thisreviewessayattemptstocategorizemajorstudiesintherichliteratureondemocratictransitionintofourtheoreticalap-proaches:structure-orientedapproaches,process-orientedapproaches,in-stitutionalcontext-orientedapproaches,andpoliticaleconomyapproaches.
1.
Structuralistapproaches,
pioneeredbyLipset,Almond,Moore,andothers,dominatedmuchofthepoliticalsciencescholarshiponLatin
2GeoffreyPridhamandTatuVanhanen,eds.,
DemocratizationinEasternEurope:DomesticandInternationalPerspectives
(NewYork:Routledge,1994),2.3HelgaA.Welsh,"PoliticalTransitionProcessesinCentralandEasternEurope,"
Compara-tivePolitics
27(July1994):379.4AdamPrzeworski,
DemocracyandtheMarket:PoliticalandEconomicReformsinEasternEuropeandLatin.America
(CambridgeandNewYork:CambridgeUniversityPress,1991),95-99.134
July/August1999
 
DemocraticTransition:ACriticalOverview
AmericaandSouthernEuropeinthe1960sand1970s.Structuralap-proachesassumethateconomicdevelopment,politicalculture,classcon-flict,socialstructures,andothersocialconditionscanexplainparticularoutcomesofthetransition.Thesescholarswerepreoccupiedwithmacro-levelsocialconditions,orsocioeconomicandculturalprerequisitesofdemocracy,andsoughttoexplainthecausesandeffectsofdemocracyandclarifythenatureoftheirrelationships.Theirquantitativestudiesofalargenumberofcountriesfoundapositivecorrelationbetweendemocracyandeconomicdevelopmentorvariousfacetsofsocialdevelopment.WhileLipsetfocusedonthelong-runcausalinfluenceofthelevelofwealth,industrialization,urbanization,andeducationondemocratization,otherwritersemphasizedtheroleofcivicculture,classconflicts,interestgroups,religions,etc.Theirempiricalstudiesgenerateddebatesovernotonlytheprerequisitesforbutalsothelevelandstabilityofdemocracy.
5
O'DonnellandSchmitter'searlierwork,anotherstructuralistapproach,soughttoexplainthecollapseofdemocracybyassuminganimportantcon-nectionbetweensocioeconomicandpoliticalstructuresand,accordingly,focusingoneconomicdevelopmentandclassconflictasprincipalexplan-atoryvariables."Thecommonfeatureofthesestudiesbythisgroupofscholarswastheassumptionthatcertainsocialandpoliticalstructuresmustbeinplacebeforedemocracycanbeinaugurated.'
5SeymourMartinLipset,"SomeSocialRequisitesofDemocracy,"
AmericanPoliticalSci-enceReview
53(March1959):69-105;GabrielAlmondandSidneyVerba,
TheCivicCul-ture
(Princeton,N.J.:PrincetonUniversityPress,1963);BarringtonMoore,Jr.,
SocialOriginsofDictatorshipandDemocracy:LordandPeasantintheMakingoftheModernWorld
(Boston:BeaconPress,1966).DietrichRueschemeyer,EvelyneHuberStephens,andJohnD.Stephensprovideacomprehensivereviewofthemodernizationliteratureondemocratization.Seetheir
CapitalistDevelopmentandDemocracy
(Chicago:UniversityofChicagoPress,1992),12-39.6GuillermoA.O'Donnell,
ModernizationandBureaucraticAuthoritarianism:StudiesinSouthAmericanPolitics
(Berkeley:InstituteofInternationalStudies,UniversityofCalifor-nia,1979);PhilippeC.Schmitter,"StilltheCenturyofCorporatism?"
ReviewofPolitics36
(January1974):85-131.7RobertA.Dahl,
WhoGoverns:DemocracyandPowerinanAmericanCity
(NewHaven,Conn.:YaleUniversityPress,1961);ArendLijphart,
ThePoliticsofAccommodation:Plu-ralismandDemocracyintheNetherlands
(Berkeley:UniversityofCaliforniaPress,1968);Dankwart
A.
Rustow,"TransitionstoDemocracy:TowardaDynamicModel,"
ComparativePolitics
2(April1970):337-63;Rueschemeyer,Stephens,andStephens,
CapitalistDevel-opmentandDemocracy.July/August1999
135

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