Is the world experiencing a "springtime of democracy," now that the Berlin Wall has crumbled and many formerly communist states have begun to reconfigure their governments and economies? And if democracy is "bursting out all over," is it doing so in a sustainable fashion? Are there pitfalls as well as positive potentials in the recent trends toward democratization?
This book examines the prospects for democracy in the world today and frames the central dilemma confronting all states touched by the process of democratization. The author clarifies the concept of democracy, shows its application in different contexts, and questions whether democratic advancement will continue--and if so, at what price. The consequences of democracy for economic development, human rights, and peaceful relations among countries are illuminated in both their positive and negative aspects.
Professor Sorensen is uniquely qualified to give students and general readers a sense of the long, slow process that democratization entails--both from the inside out (at national and local levels) and from the outside in (international causes and effects). He draws on a wealth of case studies, examples, and anecdotes to illustrate historical as well as contemporary instances of democratic transition.
Democracy, as he convincingly portrays it, is a value in itself as well as a potential promoter of peace, prosperity, and human well-being. But democracy is not inevitable, and actions at every level--from the individual to the international-- are necessary to ensure that frail or "frozen" democracies do not founder and that established democracies flourish.
Georg Sorensen is professor of international politics and economics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. He has written numerous books and articles on international relations and development issues.