Working Papers

"Democracy 'with Adjectives': Conceptual Innovations in Comparative Research"

Author
David Collier Steven Levitsky
Abstract

Abstract

The recent trend toward democratization in countries throughout the globe has challenged scholars to pursue two potentially contradictory goals: to develop a differentiated conceptualization of democracy that captures the diverse experiences of these countries; and to extend the analysis to this broad range of cases without 'stretching' the concept. This paper argues that this dual challenge has led to a proliferation of conceptual innovations, including hundreds of subtypes of democracy-i.e., democracy 'with adjectives.' The paper explores the strengths and weaknesses of three important strategies of innovation that have emerged: 'precising' the definition of democracy; shifting the overarching concept with which democracy is associated; and generating various forms of subtypes. Given the complex structure of meaning produced by these strategies for refining the concept of democracy, we conclude by offering an old piece of advice with renewed urgency: It is imperative that scholars situate themselves in relation to this structure of meaning by clearly defining and explicating the conception of democracy they are employing.

Resumen

La reciente corriente de democratización en países de todo el mundo ha movido a los especialistas a perseguir dos metas potencialmente contradictorias: desarrollar una conceptualización diferenciada de la democracia que capture las diversas experiencias de estos países; y extender el análisis a este amplio rango de casos sin 'estirar' el concepto. Este texto sostiene que este doble desafío ha llevado a la proliferación de innovaciones conceptuales, incluyendo cientos de subtipos de democracia-esto es, democracia 'con adjetivos.' El texto explora las fortalezas y debilidades de tres importantes estrategias de innovación que han emergido: 'precisar' la definición de democracia; cambiar la noción abarcadora con la cual se asocia a la democracia; y generar varias formas de subtipos. Dada la compleja estructura de significado producida por estas estrategias de refinamiento del concepto de democracia, concluimos ofreciendo, con renovada urgencia, un viejo consejo: Es imperativo que los especialistas se sitúen en relación a esta estructura de significado a través de una definición y explicación claras de la concepción de democracia que están empleando.

Calendar

View All Events Upcoming Events

Featured Event

Mark Your Calendars

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday