DPI413 Challenges of Democratization
Pippa Norris DPI-413 www.pippanorris.com
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Challenges of Democratization

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 For updated materials check the DPI413 class notes and resources.


The  DPI-413 syllabus for Spring 2010 is now available for downloading in pdf format. 

The first chapter of Comparing Democracies 3 (Leduc, Niemi and Norris) available for downloading for class Wed 27th Jan (in case you cannot yet get a copy of the book from the Harvard Coop)

26 Jan 2010

Aims and objectives:

This course covers the basic principles, theories, conceptual tools, and comparative methods useful for understanding the challenges of democracy. State building in Afghanistan and Iraq has highlighted the critical importance of this issue in the U.S. policy agenda, although this is far from a new concern. Since the early 1990s, the international community has focused attention on the challenges of encouraging and facilitating democratization, with the understanding that an effective democratic state and good governance encourages and complements the activities of the private and non-profit sectors, allowing markets to flourish and people to live healthier, happier lives. Democratization aims to develop institutions and processes that are more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor. Moreover, democratic governance is believed to promote international peace and cooperation, reducing the causes of conflict and violence between and within states.

The international community has used a triple strategy to promote this process. Aid has been devoted to strengthening independent judiciaries and effective legislatures designed to curb and counterbalance executive powers. Democratic assistance has flowed into attempts to foster and expand civic society by nurturing grassroots organizations, advocacy NGOs, and the news media. But among all the issues, perhaps the most resources have been invested in attempts to establish competitive, free and fair elections.

The primary challenge concerns establishing, deepening, and strengthening the quality of democracy. Despite the substantial expansion of ‘third-wave’ democracies, military-backed dictatorships, authoritarian regimes, elitist oligarchies, and absolute monarchies persist, particularly in much of the Middle East and North Africa. Other transitional semi-democracies like Zimbabwe and Pakistan have occasionally stalled or reverted back to authoritarianism. And there has been only fragile, partial or unstable consolidation of democracy in Argentina, Venezuela, and Russia. Major problems of transition confront attempts at building stable nation-states, let along free and fair elections, in Afghanistan and Iraq. The process of democratization therefore remains deeply flawed in many countries.

To understand these issues, Part I provides an overview and develops analytical tools suitable for comparative research into democratization;  Part II considers the political institutions most conducive to strengthening democratization; Part III focuses upon political culture and social capital.  The conclusion draws together the core lessons of good governance for the policy community.

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Copyright 2009 Pippa Norris, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge MA 02138. www.pippanorris.com

Last updated 01/26/2010