Democratizing Democracy: A Postcolonial Critique of Conventional Approaches to the ‘Measurement of Democracy’
Democratization (Impact Factor: 0.73). 02/2008; 15(1):1-28. DOI: 10.1080/13510340701768075
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.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
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.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Theorists have linked the creation of social capital to the development of the kind of robust civil society that underwrites the well formed and stable democracy. This understanding raises the problem of what is social capital in specific national contexts. A critical issue is whether and to what extent a model of social capital moulded to the EuroAmerican experience is applicable to the new democracies. Three arguments are made in the context of a review of the works of Putnam and Touraine. First, the question of social capital foundationally concerns not only the production of institutions and values but the conditions of production. Analysis thus needs to grasp not only the specifically social process of its creation, distribution, and institutionalization, but the political culture and economy that serve as its foundation. Second, theories of social capital created in the context of nation-state based production-centered political economy do not capture what is going on in an increasingly globalized and circulatory political economy. And third, theories of social capital centered on the United States and Europe are only partially applicable to the emerging democracies of Africa and the postcolony generally. © International Society for Third-Sector Research and The John's Hopkins University 2009.
Data provided are for informational purposes only. Although carefully collected, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The impact factor represents a rough estimation of the journal's impact factor and does not reflect the actual current impact factor. Publisher conditions are provided by RoMEO. Differing provisions from the publisher's actual policy or licence agreement may be applicable.