Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Political Institutions and Their Historical Dynamics
Halmstad University, School of Social and Health Sciences (HOS), Center for Social Analysis (CESAM).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9495-3571
Lunds universitet. (ThePEG (Theoretical Population Ecology and Evolution Group))
2012 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 7, no 10Article 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 We show that, historically and on a world scale, the dominance of the core institutions of despotism has first been replaced by a dominance of the core institutions of oligarchy, which in turn is now being followed by an increasing dominance by the core institutions of democracy.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
Keyword [en]
institutions, democracy, oligarchy, despotism, dynamics, historical
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies) Other Biological Topics
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-20137DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045838ISI: 000309454000011ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84867034447OAI: diva2:577145
Swedish Research Council, 2010-544Swedish Research Council, 2009-2390

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: 2014-03-05Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(767 kB)132 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT02.pdfFile size 767 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full textScopus

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Sandberg, Mikael
By organisation
Center for Social Analysis (CESAM)
In the same journal
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)Other Biological Topics

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 132 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 184 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link