Democratization: Theory and Experience

By Laurence Whitehead | Go to book overview
Save to active project

3 On Civil Society

The civility that makes democratic politics possible can only be learned in the associational networks; the roughly equal and widely dispersed capabilities that sustain the networks have to be fostered by the democratic state.

(Michael Walzer)

If democratization is viewed as a long-term, complex, and partially open-ended process then our theatrical metaphor needs to be supplemented by a more extensive explanatory account. Before a democratic transition can begin there must be a political community receptive to democratic aspirations. After the regime change has taken place, the same community must respond to the new possibilities for political participation. The stability and overall direction of the process will depend on this larger social context. Several alternative strategies have been attempted to characterize the societal variables that may encourage democratization (or not). Causal connections have been sought between democratization and such elements as 'modernization', per capita income levels, the expansion of commercial society, the rise of a 'middle class', the emergence of organized labour, and more culturally specific variables such as Protestantism, ethnic homogeneity, and so on. However, if democratization is viewed as a partially normative process of social construction and persuasion, then such tight patterns of causal determination are improbable or, if found, are unlikely to remain stable. This chapter therefore considers an alternative type of explanation that directs attention to discursive and interpretative processes that are more compatible with the view of democratization developed in Chapter 1 .

Theorists of 'civil society' attempt to explain processes of democratization by reference to societal context, often touching on many of the same variables adopted by other research strategies, but their accounts are more normative and less determinist. This chapter first outlines the genealogy of such theories, and then settles for a


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Democratization: Theory and Experience


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 300

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?