Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Pippa Norris, Making Democratic Governance Work: How Regimes Shape Prosperity, Welfare, and Peace

Academic journal article Romanian Journal of Political Science

Pippa Norris, Making Democratic Governance Work: How Regimes Shape Prosperity, Welfare, and Peace

Article excerpt

Pippa Norris, Making democratic governance work: how regimes shape prosperity, welfare, and peace (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012).

In "Making democratic governance work: how regimes shape prosperity, welfare, and peace", Harvard Professor Pippa Norris tries to untangle the intricate relationship between liberal democracy, state capacity and human security.

Norris's objective is to explain why liberal democracy should be valued as intrinsically good for prosperity, welfare and peace, the core components of human security. In order to do this, she compares liberal democracy with other regimes or frameworks of governing the nation-state. Each regime constitutes government institutions, formal and informal rules of the game that have an impact on all the core components of human security meaning that each regime delivers different political outcomes such as availability of clean drinking water, provision of health, reduction of hunger or prevention of human crises. While regimes are moderately durable, they can also change in response to internal and external dynamics, coup d'etat, wars, or through political processes. In this respect, the author does a great job clarifying the different theoretical perspectives about regimes.

This book adds to the debates around regime change, governance and democracy which drew the attention of the international community, in particular following the third wave of democratization and in the context of USA intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan to establish strategic development goals in those countries. This debate was reinforced with the emergence of the "Arab spring".

A vision of Democratization

Norris's vision on democracy is influenced by her experience working from 2006 to 2007 as Director of the Democratic Governance Group at the United Nations Development Program. In this sense, she stated that "[D]emocratic governance can and should be valued as intrinsically good in and for itself. Citizens should be able to choose their own representative governments, exercising the basic right to determine their own fates, irrespective of any impact on their dimensions of development" (2012: X-XI).

Theoretical Perspectives

The author reviews four theoretical perspectives developed in the literature that she considers, better explain the debate between governance and democracy. Firstly, she starts reviewing the "structuralist" theories, which suggest that development is driven by building enduring economic components such as human and physical capital. Structural conditions and democratization would be the result of societal modernization. Industrialization, enhancing living conditions, and increasing the literacy rate - all these create the conditions for democratization. Secondly, the "democracy-promoters" theories claim that strengthening democratic institutions such as elections, deepening liberal democracy and power sharing would generate the beneficial consequences that communities need. A third set of theories, the so-called "state builders", suggest that democratization in areas of weak states, with legacy of conflict and where authorities have limited capacity to implement policy would lead to social unrest and civil war. Samuel Huntington proposed modernizing authoritarianism (2012: 30), with examples from Korea, Singapore and Indonesia, by building institutions that can accommodate the needs of the society in an orderly manner, avoiding the 'premature' democratization, limiting the risk of social disorder and insurgency movements. The World Bank's 'good governance' concept would be in line with this last theoretical perspective in conjunction with the concept of state capacity put forward by Max Weber (2012: 33).

In the present book, Pippa Norris proposes a "unified theory" that combines democracy and governance predicting that "the institutions of both liberal democracy and state capacity need to be strengthened in parallel for the most effective progress deepening humans' security" (2012: 194). …

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