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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam

Mobilizing for and against Democracy (MoDe)

Alternative title: Mobilisering for og mot demokrati (MoDe)

Awarded: NOK 11.8 mill.

In many countries across the world, the struggle over democracy remains a real and pressing concern. Yet, whereas some pro-democracy movements have been successful in prompting democratization, others have been violently shut down by dictators who successfully clung to power. Some movements that initially prompted real democratic gains have later seen these reversed. Why do some pro-democracy movements succeed, while others fail? The project Mobilizing for and against Democracy (MoDe) proposes that an answer to this important question can be found in the characteristics of the social groups that mobilize to support or oppose democracy. Through novel theory-development, an ambitious data collection effort, and a combination of statistical and case-oriented research methods, MoDe will offer a comprehensive picture of how democratization trajectories over the past 250 years have been shaped by the interest, capacity and interaction of the social groups involved. MoDe analyzes why particular social groups, for example students, land-owners, the military or industrial workers, mobilize to support or oppose a non-democratic regime. It moreover examines how the composition of the coalitions that mobilize for or against the autocratic regime influence the likelihood of democratization; the risk of violence during the transition; the type of institutions implemented in the new regime; and the long-term prospect for democratic consolidation. Initial research from the project shows that sustained mass protests can prompt regimes to change institutions in a controlled manner to diffuse or pre-empt threats, but that only non-violent protests are associated with democratizing transition. Violent protests, on the other hand, typically precede movements towards less democracy. With this research MoDe contributes with new knowledge regarding when democratization efforts succeed or fail.

The struggle over democracy remains a real and pressing concern for academics and policy makers alike. Whereas some pro-democracy movements in recent years have been successful in ousting long-lived autocrats, others have been violently shut down as dictators clung to power. Some opposition movements that initially prompted real democratic gains have later seen these reversed following violent face-offs with regime supporters. Why do some pro-democracy movements succeed, while others fail? This project proposes that an answer to this important question can be found in the characteristics of the social-group coalitions that mobilize to support or oppose democracy. Mobilizing for and against Democracy (MoDe) will – through novel theory-development, an ambitious data collection, and a combination of statistical and qualitative research – offer a comprehensive picture of how democratization trajectories have been shaped by the interest, capacity and interaction of the social groups involved, dating from the French revolution to the present. The idea that regime preferences are shaped by social groups' standing in the economy is widely acknowledged in the existing literature. Yet, in lieu of comprehensive, actor-centric data, theoretical conjectures have focused on aggregate outcomes, tested with imperfect, macro-economic proxies. Further still, few studies have looked beyond economic interests to consider a broader range of groups – such as the church, students, military or ethnic groups – thereby potentially downplaying the role of values and ideas such as nationalism, liberalism, or religious conservatism in shaping democratization trajectories. An actor-oriented approach to democratization will offer new and valuable insights, not only on the likelihood of democratization, but also on the risk of violence during democratic transitions; the type of institutions implemented in the post-transition regime; and the long-term prospect for democratic consolidation.

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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam