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Democratic revolutions as institutional innovation diffusion: Rapid adoption and survival of democracy
Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.
Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Center for Social Analysis (CESAM). Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9495-3571
2013 (English)In: Technological forecasting & social change, ISSN 0040-1625, E-ISSN 1873-5509, Vol. 80, no 8, 1546-1556 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recent 'democratic revolutions' in Islamic countries call for a re-consideration of transitions to and from democracy. Transitions to democracy have often been considered the outcome of socio-economic modernization and therefore slow and incremental processes. But as a recent study has made clear, in the last century, transitions to democracy have mainly occurred through rapid leaps rather than slow and incremental steps. Here, we therefore apply an innovation and systems perspective and consider transitions to democracy as processes of institutional, and therefore systemic, innovation adoption. We show that transitions to democracy starting before 1900 lasted for an average of 50. years and a median of 56. years, while transitions originating later took an average of 4.6. years and a median of 1.7. years. However, our results indicate that the survival time of democratic regimes is longer in cases where the transition periods have also been longer, suggesting that patience paid in previous democratizations. We identify a critical 'consolidation-preparing' transition period of 12. years. Our results also show that in cases where the transitions have not been made directly from autocracy to democracy, there are no main institutional paths towards democracy. Instead, democracy seems reachable from a variety of directions. This is in line with the analogy of diffusion of innovations at the nation systems level, for which assumptions are that potential adopter systems may vary in susceptibility over time. The adoption of the institutions of democracy therefore corresponds to the adoption of a new political communications standard for a nation, in this case the innovation of involving in principle all adult citizens on an equal basis. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: Elsevier, 2013. Vol. 80, no 8, 1546-1556 p.
Keyword [en]
Democracy, Autocracy, Transitions, Consolidation, Institutions, Revolutions
National Category
Other Natural Sciences Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-21677DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2013.02.002ISI: 000325043600009ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84883455554OAI: diva2:612705
Available from: 2013-03-24 Created: 2013-03-24 Last updated: 2015-02-19Bibliographically approved

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