Research Cluster - Democratization Theory

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

Tomás Gold, Graduate Student Coordinator 

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 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 build on the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) conceptual scheme and data; others are complementary or completely separate. The cluster traditionally gives 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 works to:

  • 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.​

Civil-Military Relations and Coups
Coordinator: Gary Goertz

Courts, Rule of Law, Transitional Justice, and Constitutional Best Practices
Coordinator: Ilana Rothkopf

Diffusion and Other International Influences
Coordinator: Michael Coppedge

Hybrid Regimes and Democratic Erosion

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

Unions, Churches, and Other Civil Society Organizations

Friday, November 1, 2019
Democratization Theory Research Cluster Workshop

Workshop Organizers: Faculty Fellows Michael Coppedge (political science), Gary Goertz (political science), Aníbal Pérez-Liñan (political science), Dianne M. Pinderhughes (Africana studies and political science), and Samuel Valenzuela (sociology).



December 2019 
Author: Andreas Schedler
Title: Tyrannies of Majorities: A Conceptual Reassessment 

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