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The Cultural Evolution of Democracy: Saltational Changes in A Political Regime Landscape
Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Center for Social Analysis (CESAM), Centre for Studies of Political Science, Communication and Media (CPKM). (Management of Eco-Innovation)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9495-3571
2011 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 6, no 11, e28270Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Transitions to democracy are most often considered the outcome of historical modernization processes. Socio-economic changes, such as increases in per capita GNP, education levels, urbanization and communication, have traditionally been found to be correlates or ‘requisites’ of democratic reform. However, transition times and the number of reform steps have not been studied comprehensively. Here we show that historically, transitions to democracy have mainly occurred through rapid leaps rather than slow and incremental transition steps, with a median time from autocracy to democracy of 2.4 years, and overnight in the reverse direction. Our results show that autocracy and democracy have acted as peaks in an evolutionary landscape of possible modes of institutional arrangements. Only scarcely have there been slow incremental transitions. We discuss our results in relation to the application of phylogenetic comparative methods in cultural evolution and point out that the evolving unit in this system is the institutional arrangement, not the individual country which is instead better regarded as the ‘host’ for the political system.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
San Francisco: Public Library of Science , 2011. Vol. 6, no 11, e28270
Keyword [en]
Cultural evolution, Saltationism, Gradualism, Adaptive landscape
National Category
Other Biological Topics Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-16615DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028270ISI: 000298168100059Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-82355193806OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-16615DiVA: diva2:460951
Note

Article Number: e28270

Available from: 2011-12-01 Created: 2011-12-01 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved

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