“What Democracy Is…and Is Not” Country Memo + Presentation Group Assignment 20 points
This assignment requires you to work together in assigned groups of 3-5 students to produce a co-authored memo and group presentation. Your group is tasked with advising a country struggling with democratization on how best to make progress in strengthening the quality of their democracy. Groups will select an actual country currently struggling with democratization and will be asked to take on the role of constitutional advisors who must produce a memo outlining the current state of democracy in the country, identify key problem areas preventing democratic consolidation, pinpoint factors contributing to the country’s issues with democratization, and make suggestions for the country’s government on how best to implement policies to make democratic consolidation more likely. Groups will work collaboratively to research and write a 2-3 single-spaced page memo following the memo template provided by Dr. Scott. Groups will also complete an in-class presentation over their topic and memo on a pre-assigned date. All memos will be due on the date of the group’s presentation and all group presentations will happen on Monday, November 28.
STEP 1). I STRONGLY encourage everyone to read the following two articles (available in TCU Online) as well as the first half of Chapter 6 in O’Neil BEFORE you begin serious research on your memo:
Schmitter, Philippe and Terry Lynn Karl. 1991. “What Democracy Is…and Is Not.” Journal of Democracy. 1991: 75-88. In TCU Online. Geddes, Barbara. “What Causes Democratization.” 2011. The Oxford Handbook of Political Science. In TCU Online. In TCU Online. STEP 2). Memo: 15 points After selecting the country your group wishes to study, you will collaboratively research and write a memo intended to identify, diagnose, and treat the democratization struggles your country is experiencing. All memos will focus substantively on answering four key questions: 1. What is the current state of the country’s regime?
Because you are studying a “partly free” country, you are examining a case in which the state has elements of democratic government, but these elements are weak. You will research the quality of democracy in your country and identify whether it is: a. a country that has experienced a recent transition away from nondemocracy and towards democracy, but the transition has not yet been successful. b. a country that is experiencing a breakdown in democracy and is sliding backwards into nondemocratic rule. c. the country has seen no recent movements to/away from democracy, but has been stuck at a neither fully democratic nor fully nondemocratic system of government for a very long time. To answer Question 1, your group will identify which of the above three scenarios best describes your country, relying on the extensive use of evidence from the Freedom House
report and other sources to explain why you believe your country to be a case of either a., b., or c.
2. What specific challenges is the country facing that are inhibiting the consolidation of democracy?
In his famous book, Polyarchy, political scientist Robert Dahl identified seven conditions that are necessary for modern democratic governance. Based upon your research into your country’s regime type (you will need to look at sources beyond the FH report) identify which of Dahl’s conditions your country is struggling with the most. Be specific in this section and be sure to give specific examples, cited from scholarly or empirical sources, of the ways in which your country is struggling here.
Dahl’s 7 Conditions for Democracy: a. Control over government decisions about policy is constitutionally vested in elected officials b. Elected officials are chosen in frequent and fairly conducted elections in which coercion is comparatively uncommon
c. Practically all adults have the right to vote in the election of officials d. Practically all adults have the right to run for elective offices
e. Citizens have a right to express themselves without the danger of severe punishment on political matters broadly defined f. Citizens have a right to seek out alternative sources of information. Moreover, alternative sources of information exist and are protected by law g. Citizens also have the right to form relatively independent associations or organizations, including independent political parties and interest groups1
3. What domestic and/or international factors are contributing to your country’s challenges as identified in your answer to Question 2?
Political scientists have a strong body of evidence that suggests that democratization is affected by a variety of known causes. In most cases, no single cause is solely responsible for issues related to democratization, but it is also common to be able to identify causes that play a bigger role than others. Based upon your country research, read the first half of O’Neil Chapter 6 and discuss whether you think your country’s issues with Dahl’s seven components can be explained by factors relating to modernization, elites, society, international relations, or culture. For more on factors that affect democratization, see the following sources. On economic conditions (Acemoglu and Robinson 2001), inequality (Ansell and Samuels 2010), modernization (Ingelhart and Welzel 2009), elections (Miller 2015), legal institutions (Reenock, Staton, and Radean 2013), oil (Ross 2012), civil society (White 1994), International Organizations (Pevehouse 2002), democracy aid (Scott 2012).
4. What are some specific policy recommendations you think the country should adopt based on your answers to Question 3?
1 Source: Schmitter and Karl (1991).
Be as specific as possible and base your recommendations on scholarly research. I strongly recommend that you use the sources listed in the bibliography to inform your research here. If you recommend making constitutional changes to the country’s government, e.g. from presidential to parliamentary or from majoritarian to PR, I recommend reading the piece by Arend Lijphart listed in the sources below.
All memos should be collaboratively written and draw upon extensive scholarly and empirical research! You will turn in one (1) memo per group. All group members are expected to contribute meaningfully to the writing of this memo, though groups are free to divide and delegate key tasks to group members. All memos must follow the Group Memo Template provided by Dr. Scott in TCU Online and should be single-spaced, written in Arial 12-point font, with 1-inch margins on all sides, justified text, include footnote citations (any proper citation format is acceptable-MLA, Chicago, APA, APSA, etc.), and submitted in PDF form to TCU Online. Paper due date is the same date as your group’s presentation on November 28. See Group Memo Guidelines and Template document for more information on how to structure your memo. STEP 3.) Presentation: 5 points Group presentations will take place in-class on November 28. Presentations should be 8-10 minutes long and must summarize, explain, and elaborate upon the contents of the policy memo. All presentations must include use of PowerPoint (or equivalent) slides and all group members must actively participate in the presentation. Assignment of presentation time slots will happen in the next few weeks. BEGINNING YOUR RESEARCH: How to decide which country to study (and some additional sources to get you started!) All groups must use the Freedom House Freedom in the World Report/Map to select the country they will study. Only countries shaded yellow on the map/identified as “Partly Free” in the report are eligible for this assignment.
Groups should start their research to answer Question 1 by downloading and reading the Freedom House Country Report for their selected country. This can be found by clicking on the country on the map and selecting “View Report”. Material from these reports must be cited in your memo. Use the information presented in the FH Country Report and additional research on your country’s regime to answer Question 1.
Recommended Source List: Start Here: Schmitter, Philippe and Terry Lynn Karl. 1991. “What Democracy Is…and Is Not.” Journal of Democracy. 1991: 75-88. In TCU Online. Geddes, Barbara. “What Causes Democratization.” 2011. The Oxford Handbook of Political Science. In TCU Online. In TCU Online. Lijphart, Arend. 1991. “Constitutional Choices for New Democracies.” Journal of Democracy. 1991(1):72-84. In TCU Online. Lindber, Staffan et al. 2018. “Successful and Failed Episodes of Democratization: Conceptualization, Identification, and Description.” Working Paper., The Varieties of Demcracy Institute. In TCU Online. On specific factors related to democratization:
Acemoglu, Daron and James Robinson. 2001. “A Theory of Political Transitions.” American Economic Review. 91: 938-963.
Ansell, Ben W. & David J. Samuels. 2010. “Inequality and Democratization: A Contractarian Approach.” Comparative Political Studies 43(12):1543–1574.
Foley, Michael W. & Bob Edwards. 1996. “The Paradox of Civil Society.” Journal of Democracy 7(3):38–50.
Inglehart, Ronald & Christian Welzel. 2009. “How development leads to democracy: What we know about modernization.” Foreign Affairs pp. 33–48.
Miller, Michael. 2015. “Democratic Pieces: Autocratic Elections and Democratic Develop- ment since 1815.” British Journal of Political Science 45(3):501–530.
Pevehouse, Jon. 2002. “Democracy from the Outside-In? International Organizations and
Democratization.” International Organization 56(3): 515–549.
Reenock, Christopher, Jeffrey Staton & Marius Radean. 2013. “Legal Institutions and Democratic Survival.” Journal of Politics 75(2):491–505.
Ross, Michael L. 2004. “What do we know about natural resources and civil war?” Journal of peace research 41(3):337–356.
Scott, James M. 2012. “Funding Freedom? The United States and US Democracy Aid in the Developing World, 1988-2001.” In Liberal Interventionism and Democracy Promotion, Dursun Peksen, Editor. New York: Lexington/Rowman-Littlefield, 2012, 13-36.
White, Gordon. 1994. “Civil society, democratization and development (I): Clearing the analytical ground.” Democratization 1(2):375–390.
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