Political Science | Comparative Democratization
Y657 | 3966 | Bielasiak


The seminar examines the recent “third wave” turn to democracy around
the world, seeking to understand both the reason for democratization
and its successes and failures.   To that end, the emphasis is on
alternative theoretical explanations and conceptual approaches in the
study of regime change.  The first part of the course considers what
do we mean by democracy, democratization, and democratic
consolidation, and how to operationalize these concepts. We proceed
to consider factors that facilitate or hinder the democratization
process, e.g. issues of historical legacies, political culture, and
economic development.   Next, particular attention is paid to
institutional structures, including state capacity, electoral
process, party system, and civil society, to assess democratic
sustainability or democratic breakdown.
The main task of the course is to engage in comparative thinking
about the opportunities and constraints of democratic development in
several regions of the world.  Accordingly, the empirical evidence
draws on the experiences of emerging democracies in Southern Europe,
postcommunism, Latin America, Asia and Africa.
Seminar requirements include meaningful participation in class
discussion, and a research paper on some aspect of third wave
democratization.   In addition to the usual individual research,
collaborative projects among students, bringing together different
regional expertise, theoretical approaches, or methodological skills
are appropriate research strategies for the paper.