David Samuels

in Political Science

ISBN: 9780199756223
Published online November 2011 | | DOI:

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Democratization is defined as a change in political regime within a sovereign state from nondemocracy to democracy. The question of the optimal political regime for governing human communities has been core to Western political philosophy since Antiquity (Plato’s Republic), as has been the question of the causes of change between political regime (Aristotle’s Politics). The spread of Enlightenment ideas of individual rights, the advent of the modern state system starting in the 17th century, and the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the early 19th century in western Europe and North America all contributed to the erosion of traditional religious and monarchical traditions of political rule. Since that time, scholars have continually returned to the classic questions of the sources of regime change. The roots of contemporary social science research can be found in modern political philosophers. Rousseau argued that participation was essential to popular sovereignty, while James Madison’s contributions to the Federalist Papers urged the creation of institutional brakes on popular sovereignty, to balance the will of the majority against the rights of minorities. Likewise, Montesquieu (The Spirit of the Laws) and Tocqueville (Democracy in America) both suggested, in different ways, that a connection exists between a country’s political culture and its political regime. Also, Karl Marx’s and Max Weber’s works continue to influence scholarship, particularly in terms of the question of the political consequences of economic and social modernization.

Article.  9680 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions ; Political Methodology ; Political Theory

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