Democracy and Human Rights in Developing Countries

By Zehra F. Arat | Go to book overview

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The 1980s were exciting years, with a wave of democratization sweeping the globe. Similar transformations were evident in the early 1950s, when modernization theorists were optimistic about the future of democracy in newly emerging states, perceiving it as the form of government that would evolve ultimately from the process of economic development and modernization. These new democracies, however, failed to maintain stability and vacillated between democratic and authoritarian regimes. Through a synthesis of the theories of modernization, dependency, and bureaucratic authoritarianism, Professor Arat explains this instability in terms of the imbalance between two groups of human rights: civil-political and socioeconomic.

Arguing against those who believe that socioeconomic rights are group rights that can be maintained only at the expense of individual, civil-political rights, or vice versa—and that a trade-off between liberty and equality is inevitable— Arat demonstrates that the stability of democracy requires a balance between the two groups of human rights. A historical review, an empirical analysis of the annual scores of "democraticness" for more than 150 countries, and case studies of Costa Rica, India, and Turkey support her thesis that developing countries that recognize civil-political rights and establish democratic systems fail to maintain them if they neglect socioeconomic rights.

Zehra F. Arat is assistant professor of political science in the Division of Social Science at SUNY, Purchase.

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