GOVT-377 Dept Sem: Between Democracy and Autocracy
Spring for 2013-2014
This course explores forms of government that combine features of authoritarianism and democracy. The last decades have registered a growing number of countries being governed by regimes that do not fit comfortably in the conventional categories of democracy or autocracy. Long considered to be inherently unstable, various forms of “hybrid” regimes are proving themselves sufficiently resilient to merit the attention of scholars and practitioners of politics. This course considers pressing questions about their causes, consequences and characteristics. What are hybrid regimes? How do they work? What explains the apparently sudden profusion of these forms of government? Under what conditions are these likely to remain stable, move towards democracy, or collapse into authoritarianism?
These questions lie at the heart of pressing debates in a broad variety of settings: How should one interpret elections in places like Iran? Is the post-revolutionary regime in Egypt democratic? Is Hugo Chavez a dictator? Has Putin pushed Russia to authoritarianism? How would we know? The course will begin with an introduction to regime types, providing a brief overview of some seminal texts in the literature. It then traces the evolution of thinking on this topic from the appearance of “democracy with adjectives” to some of the most prominent conceptualizations of hybrid regimes prevalent today. The third part examines specific issues related to hybrid regimes, such as tilted elections and ineffective oppositions. The fourth will explore existing hybrid regimes around the world, with a particular focus on three areas: the Middle East, Latin America, and Post-Soviet countries.
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