PS 505 Challenges of Democratization

Understanding the causes of regime change is a long-­‐standing, central concern of comparative political science. But as the above quotation demonstrates, it is also a major concern of policy makers in the US government and elsewhere who specifically look to scholars for answers to these questions. This course provides students with the background and tools to understand contemporary theories of democratization and gives students the opportunity put theory into practice with assignments that ask students to analyze of the status of democracy and the potential for democracy in particular countries.  We begin the course with the foundational task of defining democracy. We then explore what we think we know about the factors and processes behind democratization, reviewing the major theories of democratization. We then broaden the focus to the study of democratic consolidation, the rise of hybrid forms of democracy and quality of democracy. Our theoretical discussions will be grounded in understanding democratization in Western Europe, Latin America, the countries of the former Soviet Union, Africa, and the Middle East.