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Political Institutions and Their Historical Dynamics
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Center for Social Analysis (CESAM).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9495-3571
Lunds universitet, Lund, Sweden. (ThePEG (Theoretical Population Ecology and Evolution Group))
2012 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 7, no 10, e45838Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Traditionally, political scientists define political institutions deductively. This approach may prevent from discovery of existing institutions beyond the definitions. Here, a principal component analysis was used for an inductive extraction of dimensions in Polity IV data on the political institutions of all nations in the world the last two centuries. Three dimensions of institutions were revealed: core institutions of democracy, oligarchy, and despotism. We show that, historically and on a world scale, the dominance of the core institutions of despotism has first been replaced by a dominance of the core institutions of oligarchy, which in turn is now being followed by an increasing dominance by the core institutions of democracy. Nations do not take steps from despotic, to oligarchic and then to democratic institutions, however. Rather, nations hosting the core democracy institutions have succeeded in historically avoiding both the core institutions of despotism and those of oligarchy. On the other hand, some nations have not been influenced by any of these dimensions, while new institutional combinations are increasingly influencing others. We show that the extracted institutional dimensions do not correspond to the Polity scores for autocracy, “anocracy” and democracy, suggesting that changes in regime types occur at one level, while institutional dynamics work on another. Political regime types in that sense seem “canalized”, i.e., underlying institutional architectures can and do vary, but to a considerable extent independently of regime types and their transitions. The inductive approach adds to the deductive regime type studies in that it produces results in line with modern studies of cultural evolution and memetic institutionalism in which institutions are the units of observation, not the nations that acts as host for them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
San Francisco, CA: Public Library of Science , 2012. Vol. 7, no 10, e45838
Keyword [en]
institutions, democracy, oligarchy, despotism, dynamics, historical
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies) Other Biological Topics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-20137DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045838ISI: 000309454000011Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84867034447OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-20137DiVA: diva2:577145
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2010-544Swedish Research Council, 2009-2390
Note

Funding: This study was supported by the Swedish Research Council project 2010–5444 (to PL) and Kimmo Eriksson's Swedish Research Council project 2009–2390 (to MS). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Available from: 2012-12-19 Created: 2012-12-14 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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