Research Cluster - Democratization Theory

PI’s: Faculty Fellows Michael Coppedge (political science), Gary Goertz (political science), Samuel Valenzuela (sociology), and Dianne M. Pinderhughes (Africana studies and political science), and former Distinguished Research Affiliate Aníbal Pérez-Liñan (University of Pittsburgh)

The Democratization Theory research cluster continues the Kellogg Institute's long tradition as a center for innovative thinking in democratization theory. For decades, the concepts and measures used in democratization research have fallen short of being able to adequately capture the diversity, complexity, and dynamism of political regimes. As both older and newer democracies experience democratic retrogression rather than advancement, fresh thinking is needed.

The researchers plan to fundamentally rethink concepts relating to regimes and regime change in order to develop theories of long-term historical progression toward democracy, and regression from it, that pay more attention to neglected dimensions. Some efforts will build on the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) conceptual scheme and data; others will be complementary or completely separate. The cluster expects to give less emphasis to suffrage extension and the fact of elections and more attention to the role of the judiciary and constitutions, legislative strength, election administration, and human rights, among many possibilities.

The democratization theory cluster will:

  • Examine both historical and contemporary processes of democratization;
  • Look at the impact of past historical trajectories on current situations;
  • Focus on experiences of democratic retrogression as well as progression;
  • Focus attention on neglected aspects of democracy;
  • Examine and contrast specific issues by in-depth examinations of specific cases.

Expected products: More than 30 innovative papers; case studies; journal articles; one or more edited volumes


The Democratization Theory research cluster involves seven sub-clusters dedicated to advancing research within specific sub-fields while bridging world regions and historical periods.

Sub-cluster activities include collaboration in the authorship of academic papers and journal articles in addition to the facilitation of work-in-progress sessions and reading groups. For more information on a specific sub-cluster, please contact the respective coordinators listed below.​

Citizenship, Inclusion, and Gender; Ethnic Conflict
Coordinator: TBA

Civil-Military Relations and Coups
Coordinator: Gary Goertz

Courts, Rule of Law, Transitional Justice, and Constitutional Best Practices
Coordinator: Clare O’Hare

Diffusion and Other International Influences
Coordinator: Benjamin Denison

Hybrid Regimes and Democratic Erosion
Coordinator: Benjamin Garcia Holgado

State-Building and State-Society Relations; Notions of Legitimacy
Coordinator: Luiz Vilaca

Unions, Churches, and Other Civil Society Organizations
Coordinator: Chonghyun Choi


Upcoming Events

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Muhammad Yunus

Global Citizenship for Human Development: A Conversation with Muhammad Yunus

Thursday, April 12, 2018
Muhammad Yunus

Muhammad Yunus, the recipient of the 2017–18 Ford Family Notre Dame Award for International Development and Solidarity, is an economist, social entrepreneur, and Nobel Laureate, heralded around the world as a pioneer of microfinance. More recently, he has become known for his efforts to harness capitalism as a force for good that promotes equitable human development and global sustainability...
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Raymond C. Offenheiser ‘71

Ray Offenheiser is the inaugural director of the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development and distinguished professor of the practice in the Keough School of Global Affairs, where he serves also on the Keough School’s Leadership Council...
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March 21
Kellogg International Scholars Program Meeting
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March 23
Deadline: Undergraduate Mentoring Award Nominations
Deadlines, Undergraduate Programs
March 23 to March 24
Romero Days 2018 - Memorializing Martyrdom: Romero's Beatification and Our Task Today
Rev. Robert Pelton, CSC , Peter J. Casarella, Douglass Cassel, David M. Lantigua, Sean O’Brien