Democracy and Democratization

By Geraint Parry; Michael Moran | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

Democratization and qualified explanation

Alistair Edwards

How are we to explain democratization? We can appreciate the problem by considering a simpler but analogous task. Imagine that we are faced with a few dozen vehicles, loosely described as buses. Whatever their differences and states of disrepair, they are all used for public transport. Each has been originally constructed from whatever materials lay to hand. Where some element of conscious design was present, those involved in the construction of each vehicle seem to have been working from a number of quite different blueprints, and evidence of these conflicting purposes is still apparent. Many of the buses were adapted from the remains of other vehicles: traces of military or royal insigna can still be discerned on some. A few of those still operating have been around for more than a century. Others are new models. All have been extensively modified with a view to their more efficient operation.

We have to answer a number of questions about these vehicles: notably, why some are still going while others are not. We also want to explain why certain other vehicles are in no condition to be used for public transport, and how some of them might be so adapted. How are we to proceed?

Two different approaches spring to mind. We might try to identify the characteristics shared by buses, but absent in other vehicles: age; location; homogeneity of source materials; etc. Or we might construct the particular history of each vehicle, identifying the real forces conjoined in various ways at different times and in different cases, showing how they arrived at their current state. Neither approach looks promising. The former ‘empiricist’ approach seems wildly optimistic in its search for factors of association, and promises little explanatory depth. The

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