Sociopolitical Crises and Systemic Change
What conditions bring about the downfall of one regime and lay the groundwork for a different type of political system? To identify these conditions, we need to analyze both the incumbent government and the opposition movement. The transformation from one system to another occurs when incumbent government leaders face severe crises that they cannot handle within the existing mode of policy production. Three related crises--structural, cultural, and behavioral--explain these transformative political changes. These crises stem from an incongruence (disharmony, disequilibrium, conflict) among aspects of the political system: cultural values, sociopolitical structures, and individual behaviors. As Figure 6.1 indicates, the key structural-behavioral crisis involves ineffective enforcement and noncompliance. The crucial policymaking structures--for example, the cabinet of ministers, civil service, armed forces, police, and the dominant political party--can no longer enforce their decisions. Leaders and masses disobey government orders. An opposition movement rallies greater behavioral support.
When the incumbent regime's enforcement coalition disintegrates, legitimacy crises become more severe. Catastrophes such as wars, foreign invasions, economic depressions, and natural disasters exacerbate declining legitimacy. Neither elites nor masses seem willing to accept the incumbent regime's values as morally binding. The cultural rights and obligations associated with the existing government no longer effectively regulate the performance of the policymaking structures. Because official norms of fairness, reciprocity, and scope of public authority are not incorporated into the operation of government agencies, deinstitutionalization results.
Behavioral crises intensify when leaders of the incumbent political system cannot formulate and implement policies that effectively handle the structural and cultural crises. Elite alienation grows. Mounting opposition from citizens