Course Syllabus



Class time: Mondays and Wednesdays 10.15am to 11.30pm

Class place: Belfer L1 Weil Town Hall(HKS)

Shopping: Friday 20 Jan 2017

First class: Monday 23 Jan 2017

Last class: Monday 24 Apr 2017

Total classes: 23 sessions

Professor: Pippa Norris, McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Harvard, ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Electoral Integrity Project.


Personal Website:

Project website:

Course website:

Twitter: @PippaN15

Essential Readings: See 'Files'

Office Hours:Tuesdays 2.00-4.00pm. Signup via:

Download PDF Syllabus


This course covers the basic principles, theories, conceptual tools, and comparative methods useful for understanding the challenges of democracy and democratization.

Since the early-1970s, successive ‘waves’ of regime change have occurred.  The era from the mid-1970s to the 1990’s is widely regarded as a substantial expansion in the third wave of electoral democracies around the globe. More recent developments remain under debate, however; some see a picture of stasis but other observers suggest that liberal democracy is now ‘in retreat’, ‘in decline’ or under threat around the world, including in Western societies. The rise of populist authoritarianism has destabilized established patterns of party competition and threatened liberal ideals and human rights even in many long-standing democracies, including in the United States and Western Europe.   Events during the ‘Arab uprisings’ from Tunisia to Syria highlighted a checkered pattern of regime transitions and the challenge of building stable and peaceful nation-states and effective governance in the region.  Elsewhere around the world many states have also experienced only partial or unstable steps towards democratic elections, and then reverses, for example in Turkey, Thailand, Bangladesh, Kenya, Nigeria, and Venezuela. There are also numerous examples of ‘electoral autocracies’, in states as varied as Singapore, Burma, Russia and Pakistan, which hold multiparty elections but fail to institute the full panoply of human rights and political freedoms.  Moreover many autocracies persist – whether one-party states, military-backed dictatorships, autocratic regimes, elitist oligarchies, and absolute monarchies. In many countries, therefore, the prospects of democratization remains deeply flawed, incomplete, or uncertain.

These developments have profound consequences. Advocates argue that democratic governance is a universal human right. Moreover, this type of regime is also believed to have instrumental advantages by helping people live wealthier, healthier, and more secure lives. Effective democratic states elect leaders who are more accountable and thus more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor. In addition, democratic governance is also believed to promote international peace and cooperation among similar types of regimes, reducing the causes of conflict and violence between and within states. 

In the light of these arguments, the international development community, multilateral organizations, and national stakeholders have used multiple strategies to support democratic governance. Resources have been devoted to strengthening the capacity of political institutions, notably through encouraging multiparty competitive elections, independent judiciaries, and effective legislatures designed to curb and counterbalance strong executives, as well as implementing decentralization strategies, anti-corruption drives, and public sector reforms. Democratic assistance has flowed into attempts to foster and expand civic society by nurturing grassroots organizations, advocacy NGOs, human rights watch groups, and the independent news media. And aid has been invested in attempts to expand economic growth, peace-building, and sustainable development, as an indirect route to democratic governance. But critics suggest that these efforts, no matter how well-meaning, have been largely ineffective, international assistance for democratic governance should be reduced, and these resources should be invested in other priorities at home and abroad.


To understand all these debates, Part I provides the foundational overview by establishing analytical concepts and indicators suitable for comparative policy research into democratic governance; Part II considers alternative explanations for the underlying drivers of democratization; Part III debates the constitutional designs most conducive to strengthening processes of democratization; Part IV focuses upon civic society, and the role of political culture, religion and social capital. Part VI examines the consequences of democratic governance for prosperity, welfare and peace.

Course Objectives: 

The course will sharpen your understanding of the challenges facing democratic governance and also provide insights into the range of practical policy recommendations which could be adopted to strengthen the process of democratic governance.  

The course will use a broadly comparative methodology incorporating evidence from a wide range of countries worldwide, including developed and developing societies.   This class is evaluated through mixed types of assignments, including a standard academic paper and a professional report. There are no prerequisites for taking the class. Some visiting speakers will be arranged and announced during the course of the semester.





Assignment due dates



Part I: Foundations



M 23 Jan

Introduction: Roadmap of the course



W 25 Jan

Theoretical frameworks and concepts: classifying regimes



M 30 Jan

Concepts, benchmarks and indices: Democracy



W 1 Feb

Concepts, benchmarks and indices: Governance




Part II: Contextual Drivers of Democratization



M 6 Feb

Explanatory frameworks: regime change and democratic consolidation



W 8 Feb

Social determinants



M 13 Feb

Economic drivers



W 15 Feb

International agencies & democracy assistance



W 22 Feb

Civil society, protest politics, and revolution from below




Part III: Constitution building



M 27 Feb

The principles and practices of constitution building



W 1 Mar

Elections: free and fair electoral and party laws



M 6 Mar

Electoral management and electoral integrity



W 8 Mar

Inclusive legislatures and minority representation  



M 20 Mar

Executive powers: presidential, mixed, or prime ministerial

Research paper


W 22 Mar

Decentralizing decision-making to local and federal levels



M 27 Mar

Independent media and social networks



W 29 Mar

Case study debate: Building constitutions




Part IV:  Strengthening Civic Society



M 3 Apr

Culture and democratization



W 5 Apr

Religion and democracy 



W 12 Apr

Social capital and democracy




Part VI: Consequences of democratic governance



M 17 Apr

Conclusions: Impacts on prosperity



W 19 Apr

Conclusions: Impacts on poverty and welfare



M 24 Apr

Conclusions: Impacts on peace

Final Report

Note university holidays: No class will be held on Mon 20h Feb (President’s Day), and during spring break (11th March to 19th March). No class on Monday 10th April, due to a prior engagement. (i) Assignments are due to be handed in at the start of the class on the specified dates.

Required Readings:

Books can be ordered direct from the publishers, or from, and these are also available on reserve at the HKS library.

For the required class readings,  article PDFs can be found in the course website under ‘Files’. Further supplementary readings and resources are listed under each week’s topic to help with your research papers.

1. Jan Teorell. 2010. Determinants of Democratization: Explaining regime change in the world, 1972-2006. New York: Cambridge University Press

What are the determinants of democratization? Do the factors that move countries toward democracy also help them refrain from backsliding toward autocracy? This book attempts to answer these questions through a combination of a statistical analysis of social, economic, and international determinants of regime change in 165 countries around the world in 1972–2006, and case study work on nine episodes of democratization occurring in Argentina, Bolivia, Hungary, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Turkey, and Uruguay. The findings suggest that democracy is promoted by long-term structural forces such as economic prosperity, but also by peaceful popular uprisings and the institutional setup of authoritarian regimes. In the short-run, however, elite actors may play a key role, particularly through the importance of intra-regime splits. These results have important repercussions both for current theories of democratization and for the international community's effort in developing policies for democracy promotion.

 Cambridge University Press  ISBN:9780521139687 $34.99


2. Pippa Norris. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-sharing Institutions Work? Cambridge University Press.

As illustrated by contemporary constitutional debates in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan, controversy continues to surround the pros and cons of power-sharing institutions. This debate is vital for scholarly research seeking to understand the underlying drivers of democratization, development, and conflict. It is even more important for policymakers concerned with promoting sustainable governance, practical institutional reforms, and durable peace-settlements.

This book has two main aims. The first is to update and refine the theory of consociationalism, originally developed in the late-1960s, to take account of the flood of contemporary developments in power-sharing which have occurred worldwide. This study compares the consequences for democracy of four dimensions of power-sharing regimes: the basic type of electoral system, whether there is a parliamentary or presidential executive, the decentralization of power in unitary or federal states, and the structure and independence of the mass media. 

Building on this classification, the study tests the potential advantages and disadvantages of each of these institutions using a wider range of empirical evidence than previous studies.

Cambridge University Press. 2008. 978-0521694803 $23.53 Paperback from Amazon ISBN-10: 0521694809/ ISBN-13: 978-0521694803.


General points for all assignments:

  • Participants are expected to keep up with the required readings and to attend classes every Monday and Wednesday. 
  • Late policy: Barring an extraordinary excuse, all late assignments will be marked down a third of a grade (such as from A to A-) for each day following the due date.
  • Your assignments are designed to be crafted as evidence-based policy analysis, reflecting the leading research on each topic.  Your work needs to be carefully written and supported by direct evidence derived from the available data and from citations to existing research.
  • Use effective endnote references citing sources from the peer-reviewed research literature, as suggested from the extensive readings listed in the syllabi and others related publications.  Use endnotes to support any contentious claims and to acknowledge any data sources.

Research paper (40%) Due by the start of class on Monday 20th March (after spring break)

You can choose to answer one question out of any questions listed in the syllabus from classes 1-14. The paper should be about 2,500 words in length. It should be designed primarily for the research community and structured with standard subheadings as follows.

  1. The selected question, the plan of your paper, and the synopsis of your argument
  2. Review of the core theoretical debate in the literature
  3. Summary of the empirical literature and existing evidence
  4. Conclusions and implications
  5. Endnotes: comprehensive list of literature and references used in the paper

The first assignment requires you to develop a core theoretical argument in response to the question, to read widely and provide a thorough and balanced synthesis of the existing research published in journals and books on the topic, to consider what evidence is available from the research to support your claims, and then to summarize the key points and consider their implications in your conclusion. Your ideal template is a research article publishable in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal.


Research paper or consultancy Report (40%) Due by the start of class on Monday 24th April

You can choose to write either a second research paper, using the above guidelines. Alternatively you can choose to produce a consultancy report which compares a world region for one of the dimensions of institution-building listed in the syllabus from classes 10-23 (e.g. elections, legislatures, executives, media, etc.) designed for a nominal multilateral client such as IDEA, IFES, OAS, AU, UNDP or World Bank. The report should be about 2,500 words in length. Your report should be structured with subheadings as follows.

  1. The selected topic, nominal client, and the executive summary of your report;
  2. Summary of why the topic you have selected matters and why this fits the mission of the agency (advocacy);
  3. Identify the problem and the range of policy options seeking to address the problem, with their pros and cons, supporting your claims by using evidence from the research literature, secondary sources and cases;
  4. Summary of key recommendations and the next steps ;
  5. Endnotes: comprehensive list of literature and references used in the report.

Your ideal template is a consultancy report commissioned by an international or regional agency and disseminated for a practitioner readership. It should use graphics and charts to convey the key points.


Class Participation (20%)

Finally, the quality of your contributions to the discussions and the short exercises in class will also contribute towards your final grade.


Topics, discussion questions, & required readings


Part I: Foundations



Introduction: Road map of the course and discussion exercise

Question topic

1a Is there good evidence from public opinion surveys that  young people in America and other Western liberal democracies are becoming disillusioned with democracy?

Required reading



Foa, Roberto Stefan and Yascha Mounk. 2016. ‘The Danger of Deconsolidation: The Democratic DisconnectJournal of Democracy 27(3): 5-17


Voeten, Erik. 2016. WaPo Monkey Cage: "No, people really aren’t turning away from democracy" 9 Dec 2016 and “Its actually older people who have become more cynical about democracy.” 14 Dec 2016


Thomas Carothers. 2017. 'Prospects for U.S. Democracy Promotion under Trump.' Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


Classifying regimes and monitoring trends

Question topics



2a. Has the world been experiencing a democratic recession in recent years? Discuss the evidence for understanding global and regional trends over time.


2b. Is there evidence of a resurgence of autocracy?

Required Reading



Puddington, Arch and Tyler Roylance. 2016. ‘Overview: Anxious dictators, wavering democrats’. Freedom House: Freedom in the World Report 2016


Plattner, Marc F. 2015. ‘Is democracy in decline?’ Journal of Democracy 26(1): 5-10. 


Levitsky, Steven and Lucan Way. 2015. ‘The myth of democratic recession’ Journal of Democracy 26(1): 5-10. Also here.


See also the debate among other contributors  in the special issue in the 2015 Journal of Democracy. 26(1).

Online resources

For background information:

Quality of Governance dataset (The QoG Data under ‘Data’)


Freedom House 'Freedom in the World’ (under Publications). Read especially ‘Essays’, ‘Table and Charts’ and ‘Methodology’. (latest year available)

Marshall, Monty G. and Keith Jaggers. 2002. Polity IV Project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2002: Dataset Users’ Manual. Maryland: University of Maryland. 

Varieties of Democracy (VDem)


Concepts, benchmarks and indices: Liberal democracy

Question topics



3a. Compare the classification of regimes in one world region according to the Freedom House Index of political rights and civil liberties and the Polity IV scale of autocracy-democracy.  Are these reliable, comprehensive, and accurate indices?


3b. How can democratic regimes and processes of democratization best be measured? How would you seek to improve existing indicators?


3c. What are the advantages and disadvantages of V-Dem’s method of classifying regimes?

Required Reading



Norris, Pippa. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work? NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 3.


Munck, Gerardo L. and Verkuilen, Jay. 2002. ‘Conceptualizing and measuring democracy: Evaluating alternative indices.’ Comparative Political Studies. 35 (1): 5-34. DOI: 10.1177/001041400203500101


Coppedge, Michael et al. 2011. ‘Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: A New Approach.’ Perspectives On Politics. 9(2): 247-267. DOI: 10.1017/S1537592711000880


Collier, David and Steven Levitsky. ‘Democracy with adjectives: Conceptual innovation in comparative research.’ World Politics. 49(3): 430-451.

Online resources

Polity IV:


Freedom House 'Freedom in the World 2015’ -


International IDEA. State of Democracy Project. -

Hands on exercise:

Using the Varieties of Democracy datasets (VDem) (bring laptops)


Concepts, benchmarks and indices: state governance

Question topics



4a. What are advantages and limitations of the World Bank Institute indicators of good governance?


4b. Does democracy deliver better governance performance in Sub-Saharan Africa?


4c. Does governance need to be established prior to democratization? Or is this sequence fallacious?


4d. Has the growth of international rankings of states encouraged more evidence-based policy-making or led to poorer policy processes?

Required Reading



Grindle, Merilee S. 2007. ‘Good enough governance revisited.’ Development Policy Review. 25(5): 553-574.


Apaza, Carmen R. 2009. ‘Measuring governance and corruption through the worldwide governance indicators: Critiques, responses, and ongoing scholarly discussion.’  PS-Political Science & Politics. 42(1): 139-143.  DOI: 10.1017/S1049096509090106


Fukuyama, Francis. 2015. ‘Why is democracy performing so badly?’ Journal of Democracy 26(1):  11-20. DOI: 10.1353/jod.2015.0017


Norris, Pippa. 2012. Making Democratic Governance Work: How regimes shape prosperity, welfare and peace. NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 3.

Online resources and hands-on exercise

Using Quality of Governance Institute, Sweden.


World Bank Governance Indicators


Explanatory frameworks of democratization

Question topics



5a. What explains divergent trajectories of democratization? Select a global region with divergent political trajectories and explain the reasons for the contrasts, using the frameworks provided from your reading.


5b. Compare and evaluate the underlying theoretical assumptions, methodological approaches, evidence, and findings in two of the theories of democratization discussed by Teorell.


5c. “There is, then, an economic basis for the absence of democracy in the Arab world. But it is structural. It has to do with the ways in which oil distorts the state, the market, the class structure, and the entire incentive structure.” Diamond (2010) p. 98. Does evidence support this claim?  Do you you agree?

Required Reading



Teorell, Jan. 2010. Determinants of Democratization. New York: CUP. Introduction and Chapter 1. pp. 1-28.


Diamond, Larry. 2010. ‘Why are there no Arab democracies?’ Journal of Democracy. 21(1): 93-104. DOI: 10.1353/jod.0.0150


Social determinants of democratization

Question topics



6a. What have been the most important social drivers of democratization since the early-1970s? What are the policy implications for the international community, multinational organizations, and national stakeholders seeking to strengthen democratic governance?


6b. Compare Latin America to assess the relative importance of domestic drivers of democratization, as identified by Teorell.


6c. Is the growth of the middle class (the Lipset thesis) a necessary or sufficient condition for enduring processes of democratization? Discuss illustrating your argument by comparing a global region.

Required Reading



Teorell, Jan. 2010. Determinants of Democratization. New York: CUP. Chapter 2. pp. 39-52.


Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1994. ‘The social requisites of democracy revisited.’ American Sociological Review. 59: 1-22.


Geddes, Barbara. 1999. ‘What do we know about democratization after twenty years?' Annual Review of Political Science. 2: 115-144. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.2.1.115


Economic determinants of democratization

Question topics



7a. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Przeworski et al. dichotomous measure of regime types for comparing the process of democratization?


7b. Does economic modernization determine sustainable processes of democratization?


7c. How far is the process of democratization determined by economic development, compared with the impact of political institutions and political culture?

Required Reading



Norris, Pippa. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work? NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 4.


Teorell, Jan. 2010. Determinants of Democratization. New York: CUP. Chapter 3. pp. 54-76.


Boix, Carles and Susan C. Stokes. 2003. ‘Endogenous democratization.’  World Politics. 55(4): 517-549.   DOI: 10.1353/wp.2003.0019


International agencies and democracy assistance

Question topics



8a. What are most effective international drivers in the spread of democratic governance since the early-1970s? What are the implications for the development community?


8b. Compare states in sub-Saharan Africa to assess the relative importance of international drivers of democratization, as discussed by Teorell.


8c. Assess Levitsky and Way’s argument concerning the importance of ‘leverage’ and ‘linkage’ in processes of regime transitions. How would you test their claims?

Required Reading



Teorell, Jan. 2010. Determinants of Democratization. New York: CUP. Chapter 4. pp. 77-99.


Finkel, Steven E., Anibal Perez-Linan and Mitchell A. Seligson. 2007. ‘The effects of U.S. foreign assistance on democracy building, 1990-2003.’ World Politics 59(3): 404-440.


Pevehouse, Jon C. 2002. ‘Democracy from the outside in? International Organizations and Democratization' International Organization. 56(3): 515-549.


Levitsky, Steven and Lucan A. Way. 2002. ‘The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism.’ Journal of Democracy. 13(2): 51-65. DOI: 10.1353/jod.2002.0026


Levitsky, Steven and Lucan A. Way. 2006. ‘Linkage versus leverage: Rethinking the international dimension of regime change.’ Comparative Politics. 38(4): 379


Civil society, protest politics, and revolution

Question topics

9a. What is the relative impact of elite divisions ‘from above’ versus mobilization ‘from below’ on regime transitions and democratic consolidation? Discuss using trends in democratization in Central and Eastern Europe or in Latin America during the third wave era to illustrate your arguments.


9b. Under what conditions do elections lead to further democratization – and when and why does this process fail?

Required Reading



Teorell, Jan. 2010. Determinants of Democratization. New York: CUP. Chapter 5. pp. 77-99.


Bunce, Valerie J. and Sharon L. Wolchik. 2010. ‘Defeating dictators: electoral change and stability in competitive authoritarian regimes.’ World Politics 62(1): 43-86.


Lindberg, Staffan I. 2006. ‘The surprising significance of African elections.’ Journal of Democracy. 17(1): 139-151.


Lindberg, Staffan I. 2013. ‘Confusing Categories, Shifting Targets.’ Journal of Democracy 24(4): 161-167.


Part III: Constitutional design of state institutions


Key principles of constitution building

Question topics



10a. What is the theory of consociationalism? Is the theory still relevant?


10b. Explain the key advantages and disadvantages of ‘consensus’ or ‘majoritarian’ democracies by comparing and contrasting the constitutional features of two countries exemplifying each type. 


10c. “In the most deeply divided societies, like Northern Ireland, majority rule spells majority dictatorship and civil strife rather than democracy. What such societies need is a democratic regime that emphasizes consensus instead of opposition, that includes rather than excludes, and that tries to maximize the size of the ruling majority instead of being satisfied with a bare majority.” (Lijphart). Is this a robust and well-substantiated claim?


10d. What contexts make power-sharing constitutional settlements most likely to fail? What contexts make them most likely to succeed? Discuss and illustrate with two recent cases.

Required Reading



Norris, Pippa. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work? NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 1.


Wahiu, Winluck. 2011. ‘Introduction.’ In Böckenförde, Markus, Nora Hedling and Winluck Wahiu. A Practical Guide to Constitution Building. Stockholm: International IDEA. pp. 1-42


Ginsburg, Tom, Zachary Elkins, and Justin Blount. 2009. Does the Process of Constitution-Making Matter?’ Annual Review of Law and Social Science. 5: 201-223. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.lawsocsci.4.110707.172247

Online resources and hands-on exercise

ConstitutionNet: This includes a training program, handbook, news, and issue papers.


Democratic Institutions: Electoral integrity

Question topics



11a. What are the major advantages and disadvantages of different types of electoral systems for voter turnout, gender equality, and party competition? Discuss the evidence with case illustrations from recent elections held under different rules.


11b. Are mixed member (combined) electoral systems the best of all possible worlds?


11c. What types of reforms should be considered to strengthen electoral integrity in America?  Discuss by comparing elections in the US with equivalent Western democracies.


11d. How and why do multilateral agencies differ in the main types of programs of international electoral assistance which they offer?


11e. How important are structural and international factors in explaining patterns of electoral integrity?  

Required Reading



Norris, Pippa. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work? NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 5.


Bogaards, Matthijs. 2009. ‘Electoral systems.’ Chapter 15. In Christian W. Haerpfer et al. Democratization. NY: OUP. pp. 219-231.


Norris, Pippa. Why Elections Fail. NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 1.


Electoral Integrity Project

Online resources

ACE Electoral Knowledge Network


International Foundation for Electoral Systems


The Electoral integrity Project


Reynolds, Andrew, Ben Reilly and Andrew Ellis eds. 2008. Electoral System Design: The New International IDEA Handbook. Stockholm: International IDEA. pp. 1-29.


Elections: Inclusive legislatures and minority representation 

Question topics



13a. Why have gender quotas for elected office spread so rapidly worldwide?


13b. What legal reforms have proved most effective in contributing towards achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in elected office?

Required Reading



Inglehart, Ronald and Pippa Norris. 2003. Rising Tide. NY: CUP. Available at: under ‘books’. Chapters 1-3.


Kenworthy, Lane, and Melissa Malami. 1999. ‘Gender Inequality in Political Representation: A Worldwide Comparative Analysis.’ Social Forces. 78(1): 235-268.


Paxton, Pamela. 2009. ‘Gender and democratization.’ Chapter 10. In Christian W. Haerpfer et al. Democratization. NY: OUP. pp. 145-155.


Krook, Mona Lena. 2007. ‘Candidate gender quotas: A framework for analysis.’ European Journal of Political Research. 46(3): 367-394.   DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6765.2007.00704.x 


Reynolds, Andrew. 1999. ‘Women in the Legislatures and Executives of the World: Knocking at the Highest Glass Ceiling.’ World Politics. 51(4): 547-572.

Online resource

Quota Project


Inter-Parliamentary Union % Women in elected office


Democratic Institutions: Executive powers: presidential, mixed and prime ministerial

Question topics



14a. Explain and assess Linz’s claim that presidential government leads to democratic instability by comparing examples of presidential and parliamentary government in either the Americas or in Central and Eastern Europe.

Required Reading



Norris, Pippa. 2007. Driving Democracy. Chapter 6. Available at under ‘books’


Siaroff, Alan. 2003. ‘Comparative presidencies: The inadequacy of the presidential, semi-presidential and parliamentary distinction.’ European Journal of Political Research 42: 287-312. DOI: 10.1111/1475-6765.00084


van Cranenburgh, Oda. 2008. ‘'Big Men' Rule: Presidential Power, Regime Type and Democracy in 30 African Countries.’ Democratization 15(5): 952-973. DOI: 10.1080/13510340802362539.


Cheibub, Jose Antonio, Zachary Elkins, and Tom Ginsburg. 2013. ‘Beyond Presidentialism and Parliamentarism.’ British Journal of Political Science. 44(3): 515-544. DOI: 10.1017/S000712341300032X


Decentralizing decision-making to local and federal levels

Question topics



15a. Does decentralizing decision-making to local government help or hinder democratic governance?


15b. Does federalism encourage or deter succession?

Required Reading



Norris, Pippa. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work? NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 7.


Brancati, Dawn. 2006. ‘Decentralization: Fueling the fire or dampening the flames of ethnic conflict and secessionism?’ International Organization. 60(3): 651-685.


Devas, Nick, and Simon Delay. 2006. ‘Local democracy and the challenges of decentralising the state: An international perspective’ Local Government Studies 32 (5): 677-695. DOI: 10.1080/03003930600896293


Andrews, Christina W. and Michiel S. de Vries. 2007. ‘High expectations, varying outcomes: decentralization and participation in Brazil, Japan, Russia and Sweden.’ International Review of Administrative Sciences. 73(3): 424-451. DOI: 10.1177/0020852307081151


Independent media and social networks

Question topics



16a. What are the ideal roles of the news media as agenda-setters, watchdogs and in the public sphere in the democratization process? What are the primary barriers to achieving these roles?


16b. Is there good evidence of the so-called ‘Twitter’ revolution in the use of social media in processes of collective action and regime transitions, or is this a popular myth?

Required Reading



Norris, Pippa. 2008. Driving Democracy: Do Power-Sharing Institutions Work? NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 8.


Howard, Philip N. and Muzammil M. Hussain. 2011. ‘The Role of Digital Media’ Journal of Democracy 22(3): 35-48.


Boulianne, Shelley. 2015. ‘Social media use and participation: a meta-analysis of current research.’ Information, Communication & Society. 18(5): 524-538


Case-study: Building the Libyan and Egyptian constitutions

Question topics



17a. What are the lessons from the Tunisian and Egyptian constitutions for processes of regime transitions and democratization?


17b. What are the lessons for constitution-building in post-conflict states?

Required Reading



Way, Lucan. 2011. ‘Comparing the Arab Revolts: The lessons of 1989’ Journal of Democracy. 22(4): 17-27.


Masoud, Tarek. 2011. ‘The Upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia: The Road to (and from) Liberation Square.’ Journal of Democracy. 22(3): 20-34.

Online resources:


Full briefing details will be made available online nearer the date of this class: see the class website


Part IV: Strengthening civic society


Culture and democratization

Question topics



18a. Is there good evidence supporting Inglehart’s claims of a substantial cultural shift in orientations towards democratic values in affluent societies?


18b. Does the consolidation of democracy require a democratic culture?

Required Reading



Mattes, Robert and Michael Bratton. 2007. ‘Learning about Democracy in Africa:  Awareness, Performance, and Experience.’ American Journal Of Political Science. 51(1): 192-217.


Inglehart, Ronald. 2003. ‘How Solid is Mass Support for Democracy: And How Can We Measure It?’ PS: Political Science and Politics. 36(1): 51-57.

Hands-on exercise and resource

Using the  (Bring laptops)


Religion and democracy

Question topics



19. If secularization has occurred in most post-industrial societies, why not in the case of the United States?

Required Reading



Inglehart, Ronald, and Pippa Norris. 2003. ‘The True Clash of Civilizations?’ Foreign Policy. March/April: 63-70.


Norris, Pippa and Ronald Inglehart. 2004. Sacred and Secular: Religion and politics worldwide. Available at under ‘books’. Chapters 1 and 3.


Social Capital and Democracy

Question topics



20a. Do you agree that social capital, including dense social networks and rich reservoirs of social trust, help to explain why some democratic governments succeed while others fail? Explain and assess Putnam’s theory.


20b. Does social trust matter? Explain why and why not.


20c. Do the central claims in Putnam’s theory of social capital hold in cross-cultural perspective?

Required Reading



Putnam, Robert D. 2007. ‘E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture.’ Scandinavian Political Studies. 30(2): 137-174   DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9477.2007.00176.x 


Putnam, Robert D. 1996. ‘The Strange Disappearance of Civic America.’ The American Prospect. 24 (Winter): 34.


Putnam, Robert D. 1995. ‘Tuning In, Tuning Out: The Strange Disappearance of Social Capital in America.’ PS-Political Science & Politics. 28(4): 664-683. DOI: 10.2307/420517


Conclusions: Democratic governance and economic growth

Question topics



21a. Do governance institutions generate economic growth? 

Required Reading



Rodrik, Dani, Arvind Subramanian, and Francesco Trebbi. 2004.  ‘Institutions rule: The primacy of institutions over geography and integration in economic development.’ Journal of Economic Growth. 9(2): 131-165. DOI: 10.1023/B:JOEG.0000031425.72248.85


Siegle, Joseph T., Michael M. Weinstein and Morton H. Halperin. 2004. ‘Why democracies excel.’ Foreign Affairs. 83(5):57-71.


Conclusions: Democratic governance, human development & conflict

Question topics



22a. Under what conditions, if any, does democratic governance deliver human development outcomes?


22b. Does democratic governance bring a ‘peace dividend’ or increase risks of instability?

Required Reading



Ross, Michael. 2006. ‘Is democracy good for the poor?’ American Journal of Political Science. 50(4): 860-874. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2006.00220.x


Norris, Pippa. 2012. Making Democratic Governance Work: How regimes shape prosperity, welfare and peace. NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 6.


Mansfield, Edward D. and Jack Snyder. 1995. ‘Democratization and the Danger of War’   International Security. 20(1): 5-38.


Fukuyama, Francis. 2007. ‘Liberalism versus state-building.’  Journal of Democracy   18(3):10-13. DOI:10.1353/jod.2007.0046


Carothers, Thomas, 2007. ‘The "sequencing" fallacy.’  Journal of Democracy 18(1): 12-27. DOI:10.1353/jod.2007.0002


Norris, Pippa. 2012. Making Democratic Governance Work: How regimes shape prosperity, welfare and peace. NY: CUP. Available at under ‘books’. Chapter 7.


For further research resources:

For relevant literature always check the online Social Science Citation Index via the Harvard University library (under ‘Citation Indices’).


Course Summary:

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