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Previous research projects

Some examples of research projects from the 2012 Core Issues in Comparitive Politics module, all of these projects were featured at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research and BCUR. For more information on these projects please contact Renske Doorenspleet.

Giulia Ciliotta Bezada:

The research question for the following case study is "Explaining democracy in Brazil: what have the most influential factors in the country's transition to and consolidation of democracy been?" The analysis was carried out using the new modernization theory of democratization, taking as the main variables economic development, class structure and the theory of diffusion. All three of them were found to play an important role in ending the country's military rule. However, based on the measurements provided by Freedom House and Polity IV, I then moved to analyse why the country is not reaching "advanced democracy" levels, concluding that it is factors like corruption, party fragmentation and class inequality that are holding the statistics at the current levels. Because of the restricted length of this project, there are important limitations to it, like some lack of depth in the empirical analysis. Nevertheless, it is a significant research project, because it attempts to analyse the levels of democracy in a country that, with less than 30 years since its liberalization from military rule, currently stands as the role model for the other South American countries, and is becoming increasingly important and respected in the world stage.

Jure Jerich:

Even though the Dayton Agreement in 1995 marked the end of the Bosnian war, it certainly has not been successful in stopping ethnical hatreds and cleavages among three constitutive peoples: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. These inter ethnic clashes pose a serious threat to establishing a democratic regime, however, it is also important to evaluate an increasing importance of intra ethnic competition or 'flanking' (Horowitz, 1985), which stands for attempts of an insurgent party representing one ethnic group to challenge the dominant party of the same ethnic group by staking out a more extreme position. Applied to Bosnian case, three dominant nationalist parties - Bosniak Party for Democratic Action (SDA), Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), and Serbian Democratic Party (SDA) - are not competing only among each other any more , but they have also faced pressure from more extremist parties, which have been developed more recently. Considering those developments in socio-political sphere, this research tends to provide explanations for causal relationship between a)intra and inter conflicts in BIH and b) level of democracy, arguing that these two variables are negatively correlated (Rabuskha and Shepsle, 1972). For the purposes of this research, we will employ mixed methodology (Lieberman, 2005), which is consisted of two lines: quantitative,preliminary Large N-scale analysis (LNA); and qualitative, Small N-scale analysis, which will be a deviant case study (N=1).

Jennifer Beckwith:

The state of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) was established in 1995 under the Dayton Peace Accords, marking the end of a three year civil war, but remains under international administration. While much literature has sought to understand the reasons for war and the role of international actors in bringing a peace settlement, little research has focused on the implications for Bosnian democracy. This paper argues that democracy in BiH is weak because it lacks a vibrant civil society: the political system constructed under Dayton invests too much power in an elite class which undermines civil participation, and the institutional structure is such that ethnic divisions are politically entrenched. This, compounded by Bosnia's turbulent history of ethno-nationalism, destabilises the national unity of the country. Without national unity, Bosnia's civil society remains inactive which weakens the state's level of democracy. In short, the democracy in BiH is functioning, but not flourishing. This paper argues that the democratisation of BiH was part of the Third Wave of democratic expansion, and the process of democratisation was Actor-Oriented and most accurately followed a Transition model of change.

Benjamin Murphy:

The Republic of Ireland and democracy have had an uneasy relationship; Ireland began the 20th century fighting a bitter war of independence against the United Kingdom, fighting for an independent Ireland and absolute autonomy. This war of independence was fought against an established, well respected, and archetypal form of democracy and idealised 'Western State', fought for by an economically under-developed and relatively poor nation. This essay will try to understand how, in rejecting the established, stable, democratic system of the United Kingdom, it was possible for a new democratic system to be born; and both how and why the system has endured. This essay will look at what political culture is and particularly at the influence the Irish political culture may have had in rejecting the British state, but also in shaping and maintaining the Irish state and accompanying institutions. This will also involve analysing Irish economic infrastructure and just why a democracy was possible in an economically backward country; contrary to typical modernization and dependency theories. This essay will hope to explain just how Irish democracy has come to exist and exactly what the Celtic democracy is.