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Democratic revolutions as institutional innovation diffusion: rapid adoption and survival of democracy
Stockholms universitet, Centrum för evolutionär kulturforskning.
Stockholms universitet, Avdelningen för zoologisk ekologi.
Department of Zoology, Stockholm University.
2013 (English)In: Technological forecasting & social change, ISSN 0040-1625, E-ISSN 1873-5509, Vol. 80, no 8, p. 1546-1556Article 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 80, no 8, p. 1546-1556
Keywords [en]
Democracy, Autocracy, Transitions, Consolidation, Institutions, Revolutions
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies) Mathematics
Research subject
Mathematics/Applied Mathematics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-22804DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2013.02.002ISI: 000325043600009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-22804DiVA, id: diva2:664424
Available from: 2013-08-05 Created: 2013-11-15 Last updated: 2018-01-11Bibliographically approved

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