SUMMER19: Democracy and Democratization in Comparative Perspective

Course content

The study of democracy and democratisation has a long history in the subfield of Comprative Politics. Interest in this topic has expanded dramatically with “The Third Wave of Democratisation” that has swept much of Latin America, Southern Europe, East Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union during the past three decades. By the start of the 21st century, nearly two-thirds of the world’s states could reasonably be described as democracies. The prevalence of democracy today represents a significant advance from the early 1970s, when more than two-thirds of the world’s states were under authoritarian rule. That progress, however, should not be taken for granted. Many of the world’s newer democracies depart significantly from the liberal ideal, occupying an uneasy middle group or “illiberal democracies”—a governing system in which citizens elect their political leaders but freedom is curtailed by the government. Thus, their democratic prospects remain fragile and backsliding toward autocracy or suffer an outbreak of internal civil war. Furthermore, the Arab Middle East and countries like China, North Korea and Cuba have weathered all waves of democratisation during the past three decades. It remains the only region and countries in which genuine democratic change is absent.



The module  has four main goals. The first is to introduce students to the major issues, theories, concepts, and arguments in the literature on recent democratisation and reasons for, and processes by which, countries move from authoritarian conditions to the status of a democracy. The second goal of the course is to give students a comparative perspective on some of the major cases of transitions from dictatorship to democracy. The third goal is to considers how far the trend towards democracy might recently have come to an end, manifested in the growing number of countries that have not moved beyond partial democracy or even reverted back to authoritarianism. Finally, we considers the problem or major challenges of democratic transition and consolidation in plural societies marked by social and ethnic cleavages.


Lecture Topics (Tentative)

Unit 1 Defining democracy and the scope of our course

Unit 2 The Third and fourth Wave of democratization

Unit 3 Domestic Theories of Democratization

Unit 4 Political Culture Religion and democratization

Unit 5 Social forces Structure and Strategy

Unit 6 Process-oriented explanations - Transitology school

Unit 7 International Factors: Diffusion, Promotion, Force

Unit 8 Democratization and Violence/Peace

Unit 9  Democratization in Latin America

Unit 10 Between Democracy and Dictatorship in Post-Communist   


Unit 11 Between Democracy and Authoritarianism in Asia

Unit 12 Developmental State and Authoritarian Resilience in China

Unit 13 Democratization and Hybrid regimes in Africa

Unit 14 Authoritarianism, Popular Revolts and Democratization in the Middle East and North Africa


Bachelor student: 10 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS


Summer School 2019 Program

Week 31, 32 and 33

31 July – 16 August

Lectures: Monday, Wednesday & Friday 9-14 (NB. This is a tentative schedule)

Learning outcome


• By the end of the module it is intended that the student will be able to:

• Demonstrate knowledge of recent trends in the spread of democracy    

    throughout the world;

• Demonstrate an understanding of the different theoretical approaches 

    to democratization and analyze and assess the factors that contribute to 

    countries’ shift from authoritarian to democratic status, in particular the  

    relative role of social, cultural, political and economic forces;

• Identify the key international actors involved in democracy promotion 

   and analyze and assess their aims and practices;

• Apply conceptual tools to analyze democratization processes in particular cases;



• Students should also have;

•Developed a good overview of key theoretical issues and debates on democracy and democratization including the various schemas used to categorize different states of democratic rule, and measurement of such transition in developing countries;

• Developed the ability to apply and evaluate different theoretical frameworks to explain recent trends in regime change and the record of international democracy promotion efforts;

• Developed their capacity for the critical examine to the extent to which the nature, features and causes of democratization across countries 

display common traits, or whether country or regional specificities are more apparent;

• Developed the ability to assess the merits of competing characterizations of and explanations for the relationship between democracy and violence in plural societies, along with the role played by political institutions in overcoming such cleavages;

• Developed the ability to critically analyses and present both in oral and written form, key issues and works on the problems of democratization.



Student will: develop a broad, comparative understanding of the mechanisms behind democratic transitions from a historical and social scientific perspective to acquire the competence to assess present-day democratic development on a national level

Teaching will take the form of lectures, student presentations and class discussions based on the assigned readings.

Course materials: Required books.

Grugel, Jean and Matthew Louis Bishop (2014) Democratization a Critical Introduction, Second edition. New York: Palgrave Macmillan:

Jørgen Møller and Svend-Erik Skaaning (2013) Democracy and Democratization in Comparative Perspective: Conceptions, Conjunctures, Causes and Consequences. Abingdon: Routledge. Available in e-book form

All other required readings (e.g., articles, book chapters) will be made available on Absalon a month before the classes start. Login at The syllabus is also available upon request.

There are no prerequisites, other than a keen interest in politics and society in the global south and post-Communist countries.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Free assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28