A New Handbook of Political Science

By Robert E. Goodin; Hans-Dieter Klingemann | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
Comparative Politics: Micro-behavioral Perspectives

Russell J. Dalton

DURING this century there have been three waves of democratic expansion that have included dramatic periods of theoretical and empirical development in the social sciences. The first occurred after the turn of the century, when Woodrow Wilson, Harold Gosnell, Walter Lippmann, and others re-examined the nature of politics in modern mass democracies. The second period followed the Second World War. It attempted to identify the requisites for stable and successful democracy and the factors that undermined the democratic process in interwar Europe. This period included scholars such as Barrington Moore, Hannah Arendt, Gabriel Almond, Raymond Aron, and Seymour Martin Lipset.

We are now living through a third period of democratic ferment that is producing a dramatic surge of academic research on the theme of democratization and the nature and conditions of democratic politics. The political systems of Central and Eastern Europe were transformed in an amazing process of regime change. Popular pressures moved ahead the democrat- ization process in East Asia, ranging from the people power movement in the Philippines to the democratic reforms in South Korea and Taiwan. A wave of democratic elections has swept across Sub-Saharan Africa in the first half of the 1990s. These democratic transitions have created new freedoms for these publics, and new theoretical and political questions for social scientists. For the first time we are witnessing a transition from communism to democracy, and the nature and destination of this transition process is unclear. Similarly, the expansion of democracy to societies rooted in Confucian traditions raises questions about the cultural bases of democracy in these societies.

As these democratic transitions are occurring, new challenges to the

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