Political Science | Dictatorship to Democracy
Y396 | 9139 | Bielasiak

Over the past two decades, we have seen a flowering of democracy
around the world.   Many countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia
and Africa have turned away from dictatorships to embrace
new “democratic” practices.   Can any country become a democracy,
regardless of past history, political culture, or economic
development, or are certain prerequisites necessary for democracy to

The seminar examines the causes of democratization, the processes of
change from dictatorial to democratic rule, and the results of the
attempted democratization (as success or failure).   We start with
the fundamental question: what is democracy and democratization?  We
turn to the issue of “preconditions” – are economic growth, civic
culture, foreign influences necessary to start democracy?  Or can
democracy be crafted in inhospitable situations, such as economic
backwardness and political intolerance?  What kinds of institutions,
constitutions, elections, parties, and civic associations are best
suited for democratic success?  How do we know when democracies have
become consolidated and will not turn back to authoritarian politics?
The course considers these issues in a global perspective, drawing
on cases form all regions of the world – for example Mexico, Russia,
South Korea, Pakistan, Nigeria and Iraq.

Requirements include attendance and participation in seminar
discussions, a short critical essay evaluating one of the weekly
readings, an oral presentation on a seminar topic, a paper on one of
the issues dealing with democratization, and a final examination.