Democratization in Africa: The Theory and Dynamics of Political Transitions

By Earl Conteh-Morgan | Go to book overview
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traditional official interactions between developing countries and international donors was limited purely to economic matters. Gradually the norms for interaction expanded to the extent that the economic conjuncture with calls for democratization has fuelled the various clamors for a wide range of goals that include human rights and issues of ethnicity. In large part, chapter 8 is a move away from mainly domestic issues to what can be rather broadly labelled "external imperatives." Its focus is on the implications of the simultaneous pursuance of economic adjustment programs and reforms toward multiparty democratic rule. In particular, the analysis underscores the dilemmas, anomalies, contradictions, and paradoxes introduced by the conjunctural effects of political and economic liberalization.

To conclude, the first half of chapter 9 summarizes the analytical focus of the book into five assumptions related to the quest for political freedom, political groups or civil society, structural and hierarchical group-centered political systems, and the like. In so doing, the collective insights are further discussed and integrated with a view of offering conclusions about the authoritarian inclinations of many developing countries, the variability (success, failure, deadlocks) of democratization, and the extent and intensity of commitment to democratize. Finally, the second half of the chapter offers a critical evaluation of democratization with a general critique of the assumption as well as an emphasis on the utilities and disutilities associated with democratization as a political choice within the context of a developing economy.

While the more specific data and examples focus on democratization in Africa, the comparative and theoretical arguments are applicable to the varied Third World nations that have experienced the effects of systemic shocks like the end of the Cold War, and have subsequently embarked on the transition from arbitrary rule to political liberalization. In much of the analysis, the concepts Third World, and developing countries, are used interchangeably with Africa. In reality, Africa falls into the category of Third World (developing) nations. They suffer the effects of poverty, a general lack of Basic Human Needs for a greater portion of the population, and to a large extent, share certain common historical legacies, such as the consequences of colonial rule and the adverse effects of a competitive international system. While on the one hand, the focus is on the political attitudes in such countries, the emphasis is equally on their economic dependence in relation to tensions in their respective societies.

There are a number of works focusing on various dimensions of this post-Cold War democratizing trend. Among them are: Robert Pinkney, Democracy in the Third World ( Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994); Constantine P. Danopoulous (ed.), Civilian Rule in the Developing World ( Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1992); Georg Sorensen, Democracy andDemocratization


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