Comparative Politics: Democratization (Section 2)

Discipline: Comparative Politics
Instructor: Bielasiak
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Work: Day 1 - Rio de Janeiro - Friday, 7 November | Brazil Download Syllabus

Can any country become a democracy, regardless of its history, political culture, or economic development, or are certain preconditions necessary for democracy to flourish? This course looks at recent regime changes around the globe, when many countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa turned away from dictatorships to embrace new democratic practices.  Why were some successful, while others stumbled or failed?

We examine the causes, processes, and outcomes of the transition from dictatorial to democratic rule through the core concepts of state, polity and civil society: the definition of political community, the institutions of political power, and civic engagement.

Through the lens of state, polity, and civil society we discuss what is democracy and democratization; what preconditions such as economic growth, civic culture, or foreign influence are necessary for democracy; and what kinds of constitutions, elections, and civic associations are best suited for democratic success?  Finally, how do we know when democracies have become consolidated, and what explains democratic failures and slide backs to authoritarian politics?

This approach involves a close examination of the similarities and differences in political processes and outcomes across diverse countries, especially those that have experienced recent regime changes along our voyage, i.e. Russia, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina and Brazil.

Field Work

Country: Brazil
Day: 1 - Rio de Janeiro - Friday, 7 November

The aim of the lab is to connect the cultural, social and economic development of Brazil to the various political regimes that ruled the country.   We will visit the National Historical Museum and the Museum of the Republic to examine artifacts and documents of the Empire and the Republic periods, and of the civilian and military regimes.   The exhibits offer an opportunity to consider how cultural practices, social structure, and economic changes influenced different styles of political rule and their effect on the people of the country. The visits will provide a visual window into the political trajectory of Brazil and serve as a basis for evaluating how societal developments relate to different forms of political governance, imperial and republican, civil and military, and authoritarian and democratic. Academic Objectives: 1.  Learn about the political trajectory and transformation of Brazil, particularly different regime types 2.  Link patterns of political culture, social structure and economic development to political outcomes 3.  Engage the debate about democratization as the product of cultural, social and economic practices