Disaggregating Political Regime: Conceptual Issues in the Study of Democratization
Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies Working Paper #228 (1996)
42 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2014
Date Written: August 14, 1996
The increasingly global scope of democratization has challenged comparativists to engage in crossregional research as part of a collective enterprise. The response to such a challenge, however, hinges upon their ability to both base their research on a set of clear concepts, a prerequisite for theory-building, and clarify their method of case selection, a prerequisite for theory-testing. While these conceptual issues have yet to be fully resolved, I show how the work of a group of 'regime analysts' provides the best starting point for scholars interested in this enterprise. For this purpose, I show how the disaggregation of the concept of political regime provides the basis for a distinction among three analytically separable problems, the process of transition, the outcome of this process of transition, and the process of consolidation, and for more nuanced distinctions in terms of modes of transition, regime types and subtypes, and degrees of consolidation. I also show how the problem of conceptual stretching is avoided by regime analysts in the course of case selection through the vertical organization of their concepts along a ladder of generality and the application of a simple rule. Finally, I show how the study of political regimes on the basis of quantitative indices of democracy fails to avoid the problems of conceptual conflation and conceptual stretching.
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