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Collier: Paths toward democracy

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.

Collier. 1999. Paths toward democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 1:

The existing literature on democratization has tended to present one of two stories about the origins of democracy. The "transitions" literature views democratization as a strategic interaction among elites (perhaps one group expands the electorate to get more power, for example). It focuses on the "ins" and the "outs," primarily among the middle and upper classes, and tends to consider social movements only to the extent that they might strengthen or weaken some elites' hands. The class-based literature views democratization as the product of working-class social movements demanding it. This literature is largely structural, focusing on collective groups of workers (unions, labor parties) rather than on individual workers. In the chart on page 19 (important!), the elite-interaction literature looks at bargaining between corners 1 and 2 of the cube, while class-based arguments focus on corner 3.

The received wisdom from the literature is that class-based working-class explanations help account for historical democratization (e.g. Moore), but strategic interactions help explain current democratizations (e.g. O'Donnell and Schmitter). This book challenges that assumption, showing that the working class's role is overstated in historical accounts and understated in current accounts. (14) Collier sees seven patterns of democratization (22). Elite-led patterns include "Middle-Sector Democratization" and "Electoral Support Mobilization." Interactions between elites and working class mobilizers form the "Joint Projects" pattern. Of the four more recent patterns, three depend heavily on a role for labor: "Destabilization/Extrication," "Transition Game," and "Parallel Tracks." The last, "Intraelite Game," conflict between the military and the right leads to democratization (without labor participation). (page 22)

Research on similar subjects


Collier, Ruth (author)Comparative PoliticsDemocratizationClass Conflict

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