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Democracy in small states: persisting against all odds

Democracy in small states: persisting against all odds
Democracy in small states: persisting against all odds
This book brings thirty-nine small democracies into the comparative politics canon for the first time. For over fifty years, scholars have debated the complex and dynamic process called democratization: currently the discipline thinks that economic growth, cultural homogeneity, institutional design, party system institutionalization, and geographic location explain why some transitions consolidate, and others do not. But this work has systematically overlooked the world’s thirty-nine smallest states (with populations of 1 million or less), located in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific, and Caribbean, which constitute 20 percent of all countries. These states are much more likely than larger states to be democratic. Existing theory is tested against these understudied cases using a combination of statistical analysis and cross-case comparison. A new theory is then built, based on extensive qualitative research in small states. The personalization of politics is highlighted as ubiquitous in small states, regardless of region, history, institutional design, and level of economic wealth; and as strongly shaping the practice of politics in these countries. Many factors that democratization scholars argue predict successful consolidation do not fit small states: democracy can and does persist against all odds. This hopeful finding is significant in a world of rising democratic pessimism. The book’s optimism is tempered, however by showing that the hyper-personalized politics common to all small states is not without problems, including executive domination, patron-client linkages and extreme polarization. These offer cautionary lessons for all democracies in an era increasingly defined by populism and rising citizen disaffection with representative institutions.
Oxford University Press
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Veenendaal, Wouter
230cf0c6-70cb-465d-8664-2ec9798bcdb0
Corbett, Jack
ad651655-ac70-4072-a36f-92165e296ce2
Veenendaal, Wouter
230cf0c6-70cb-465d-8664-2ec9798bcdb0

Corbett, Jack and Veenendaal, Wouter (2018) Democracy in small states: persisting against all odds (Oxford Studies in Democratization, , (doi:10.1093/oso/9780198796718.001.0001)), Oxford. Oxford University Press, 272pp.

Record type: Book

Abstract

This book brings thirty-nine small democracies into the comparative politics canon for the first time. For over fifty years, scholars have debated the complex and dynamic process called democratization: currently the discipline thinks that economic growth, cultural homogeneity, institutional design, party system institutionalization, and geographic location explain why some transitions consolidate, and others do not. But this work has systematically overlooked the world’s thirty-nine smallest states (with populations of 1 million or less), located in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific, and Caribbean, which constitute 20 percent of all countries. These states are much more likely than larger states to be democratic. Existing theory is tested against these understudied cases using a combination of statistical analysis and cross-case comparison. A new theory is then built, based on extensive qualitative research in small states. The personalization of politics is highlighted as ubiquitous in small states, regardless of region, history, institutional design, and level of economic wealth; and as strongly shaping the practice of politics in these countries. Many factors that democratization scholars argue predict successful consolidation do not fit small states: democracy can and does persist against all odds. This hopeful finding is significant in a world of rising democratic pessimism. The book’s optimism is tempered, however by showing that the hyper-personalized politics common to all small states is not without problems, including executive domination, patron-client linkages and extreme polarization. These offer cautionary lessons for all democracies in an era increasingly defined by populism and rising citizen disaffection with representative institutions.

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Published date: 4 October 2018

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Local EPrints ID: 419725
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/419725
PURE UUID: acb2d0ef-fff2-4af2-9ab3-970fa683d609
ORCID for Jack Corbett: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2005-7162

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Date deposited: 20 Apr 2018 16:30
Last modified: 02 Mar 2021 02:45

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