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Bratton and Van de Walle: Democratic experiments in Africa

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Bratton and Van de Walle. 1997. Democratic experiments in Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Thesis: Because political authority and institutions are so different in Africa, "we contend that these differences critically affect the dynamics and outcomes of distinctive democratization processes in the sub-Saharan region."

Key process: political protest --> liberalization --> elections (problem is, this doesn't hold up at all in chapter 3--it's bunk).

Ch. 4: This book divides regime transitions into three stages: (1) political protest, (2) political liberalization, and (3) democratization--in other words, how transitions start, unfold, and end. This chapter: protest = Y (Why did was there more protest in some African countries than in others?). Protest = "the frequency of mass actions directed at political goals" (128). A test of several theoretical explanations of variations in levels of protest: (1) Economic and international explanations don't work very well. (2) Political-institutional explanations work better. They conclude with a multivariate model that draws on all approaches.

Ch. 6: focuses on (3): democratization (see above). A consideration of how transitions conclude and how democratic governments are first installed. Establishment of democracy = Y = a competitive election, "freely and fairly conducted within a matrix of civil liberties, with results accepted by all participants" (196).

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Bratton, Michael (author)Van de Walle, Nicholas (author)Comparative PoliticsNeopatrimonialPresidentialismClientelismDemocratizationInstitutionsOrigins of InstitutionsParticipationDesigning Validity

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