Democratizing Democracy: A Postcolonial Critique of Conventional Approaches to the ‘Measurement of Democracy’
ABSTRACT In most approaches to measuring democracy, the underlying assumptions are highly a-historical and a-cultural. This article is a critique of such approaches and provides the outline for an alternative interpretation. It argues that different histories and cultures produce different democracies. Conventional measuring paradigms are insufficient to adequately measure progress towards democracy in postcolonial settings. The article offers four arguments as to why democracy in the postcolony will not, and cannot, develop in a similar fashion to those in the North American and Western European settings. It focuses on the different historical trajectories of state construction; the limits of the postcolonial state in terms of its domestic capacities; the positioning of emerging market economies and democracies in the global financial system; and, finally, the variety of cultural conceptions of the proper relationship between community and individual. These four factors ensure that postcolonial democracies will differ in their trajectories from those of their Western counterparts. The article concludes that it is high time to ‘democratize democracy’, so that postcolonial attempts at creating democratic systems are given equal weight in the debates concerning progress towards democratic regimes and that different trajectories and conceptions of the meaning of democracy are take into account in Western democratic discourse.
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ABSTRACT: This paper constructs a new set of institutional indicators for Malawi. We develop indicators of political rights, of freehold, traditional (communitarian) and intellectual property rights, based on the Malawian legislative framework. In exploring the association between our rights measures and a range of indicators of socio-economic development, we obtain limited support for a modernization process for Malawi. On the one hand, the association between the rights variables can be interpreted as a modernization nexus, with a trade-off between legally anchored private property freehold rights and political rights on the one hand, and traditional forms of communal property rights on the other. By contrast, the association between rights and a range of socioeconomic development indicators gives a more nuanced picture. For social development measures property rights measures exercise a positive impact, regardless of whether they take the form of freehold or communitarian property rights. Economic development measures respond positively only to the freehold measure, and negatively to communitarian property rights. The socioeconomic development measures are negatively associated with political rights in Malawi over the last 40years of the twentieth century. KeywordsInstitutions–Political freedom–Property rights–MalawiSocial Indicators Research 01/2012; 106(3):491-521. DOI:10.1007/s11205-011-9819-4 · 1.40 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: At first glance, the world has long appeared to embrace democracy, and democratization has been a decades-long global trend: World Values Survey (2005-2008) shows about 78% of the surveyed citizens across five continents said it was important to live in a country governed democratically, and the Economist’s Intelligence Unit estimates 80 countries around the world have now exhibited some form of democracy. Yet, there has been concern about the quality of democracy based on the assumption that, in fragile democracies, the mass public has yet established democratic preferences and habits (Diamond, 1999; Bratton, 2002; Wang, 2007). This paper tested the assumption that the mass public in more democratic countries exhibited stronger democratic attitudes than that in less democratic countries. The examination focused on public statement of support for democracy and actual engagement in democratic processes. 53 countries were examined using secondary data (2005-2008) made available by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Polity IV project, and World Values Survey.The empirical evidences provided a mixed picture of mass attitudes toward democracy across types of regime, partly supporting and partly dismissing the tested assumption. Countries in better state of democracy did not always have an all-around better record of public political participation. With regard to interest in politics, it was clear that the difference was not as assumed, as higher percentage of democratic countries (flawed or full) had an indifferent public than that of undemocratic countries (authoritarian, hybrid, or autocracy). However, with regard to political actions, the public in fully democratic countries were indeed more engaging in demonstration and, to a lesser extent, in petition than the public in other types of regime. Regarding public support for democracy, data showed that, across the continents and types of regime, people explicitly expressed strong support for democracy; yet public perception toward authoritarian government was somewhat mixed, with nearly half of the hybrid regimes or flawed democracies’ public showing preference for a strong leader that bypassed the parliament and disregarded elections. The implications of the findings for comparative studies of democracy were discussed.SSRN Electronic Journal 01/2010; DOI:10.2139/ssrn.1663881