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Democratisation and Development (PO911)


Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics; the precise seminar content and order may change slightly from year to year.

  • The relationships between developmental performance on the one side and political stability/violent intra-state conflict on the other side; democratization as a solution to conflict-proneness; democratisation and state (re)building.
  • Ideas of democracy and approaches to the study of democratization
  • Differentiating processes of political change: political liberalisation, democratic transition and consolidation.
  • Feminist perspectives
  • The economic and socio-economic conditions for democratisation
  • Cultural and institutional bases of successful attempts to institutionalise democracy
  • The challenge of building parties and stable competitive party systems
  • Authoritarianism versus democracy as forces for development
  • Assessing the contribution of non-governmental organisations as agents of development
  • Civil society and its significance for democratic political change
  • International pressures, encouragement and support to democratisation, human rights and 'good governance'; political conditionalities
  • International democracy assistance
  • The impact of globalisation on democracy and democratisation
  • The resilience of non-liberal democracies, the pushback against democracy promotion, evidence for rollback of democracy and resurgence of illiberal regimes
  • Future challenges for development and democratisation

Programme content

Theories of development have evolved over many years, influenced chiefly by the concerns of economics, political science and sociology. Since the late 1980s, when many countries in Eastern Europe and Africa democratized, a ‘wave’ or waves of democratisation have been a focal point of interest, especially in parts of the developing world and former communist countries. This module explores the relationships – the interface - between development and democratisation, in the context of examining the many different meanings associated with the two central terms. Theories that maintain the two are causally connected in special ways are examined in the light of the evidence: how development influences democracy’s prospects, and democratisation’s significance, whether favourable or unfavourable, for development. Propositions that link political stability/instability with patterns of economic change, and the reasons for violent conflict within countries are also included in the analysis. As the recent developments in the Middle East show, there seems to be a link between democratization and civil war. The compatibility of cultural aspects with authoritarian and democratic rule is considered as well. Particular attention is given to corruption and its complicated link with development and democracy.

Module Director:
Renske Doorenspleet

CATS: 40

Sample 2012 reading list (PDF Document)