Western Promotion of Democracy

PLSC171 Western Promotion of Democracy


Yale University, Spring 2010
MW 2:30-3:45.

Location William Harkness 117

Instructor: Nikolay Marinov
e-mail: nikolay.marinov@yale.edu Office: Rosenkranz Hall 407
Office Hours: Tuesday 1:30-3 pm

• Course Description: Can the West promote democracy? Scholars disagree. Some deem “democracy promotion” an oxymoron: democracy is a home-grown, domestic institution, from which outsiders are best kept out. Others are not so sure, arguing that at critical junctures outside help can tip the domestic balance of power in a democratic direction.

The spread of democracies around the world, and the effort spent by Western states on furthering representative institutions among the new members of the democratic club, makes this a rich and promising topic.

Analyzing the international aspects of democratization involves understanding at least the following: (1) what is democracy (2) what domestic-level processes increase or decrease the level of democracy (3) what kind of influences from the outside world work, and do not work, in furthering democracy, and in what ways.

This course spans all subfields of political science, and spills over into law, economics, and sociology. A complicating factor is the geographical expanse of democratic in- stitutions and efforts to promote them. Eastern Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, post-civil war El Salvador and Cambodia, are only some of the regions and countries that have been impacted. Their vastly different backgrounds challenge anyone attempting the puzzle. A further complication is the variety of ways in which the outside world may affect the scope and quality of democracy. These ways include but are not limited to: pressures exercised by regional economic institutions and alliances, the power of ideas and socialization, transfers of wealth, demands for trade liberalization, the training of civic activists, reports issued by foreign election observers.

The objective of our course will be to discuss, in a series of meetings, a list of key readings on the topic of democracy promotion. Our goal will be to settle some questions of interest. A much more likely outcome is that you will finish the course with more questions that you started. That may be even better, goading you to take on some of these puzzles beyond the comfortable confines of academia.

Many readings will be available online.