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AuthorsSchneider, Carsten Q.
PublisherCentral European University
Place of PublicationBudapest
Title / Series / NameDISC Working Paper Series
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractArguably, the task of constructing new (global) measures of regime types has become more difficult since the so called third wave of democratization (Huntington 1991) reached its peak after the fall of the Berlin wall. There are several reasons for this increased difficulty. First, there are simply more cases that need to be assessed. Only after the decolonialization in the 1950s and 1960s has the number of independent countries increased as dramatically as it did after the end of the cold war. Second, the crude (and often misleading) dichotomization of regime types into ‘good’ (capitalist) Western-style democracies and ‘bad’ (communist) authoritarian regimes (with some unpleasant bed fellows of repressive but pro-capitalist non-democracies supported by the West in between) today no longer can convince anybody. Third, as the cold war has come to an end, we have more access to information on non- democratic regimes than we had during the existence of the iron curtain. This, in turn, makes us more aware of the differences among authoritarian (and also democratic) regimes. In a dialectical twist, we are living, fourth, also through a process in which the Western democracies that were formerly perceived as ideal-typical democracies (and, thus, always received the highest scores on all democracy measures) not only show different serious flaws in their democratic performance, but also their legitimacy is challenged, both from inside and from outside (e.g. Dalton 2004 and Pharr, Putnam & Dalton 2000). A fifth reason for why the task of measuring political regimes has become more difficult and complex is the fact that more than ever the objects to be assessed are moving targets. As evidence for that one just needs to think of the series of so called colored revolutions, events which almost have become routine in certain parts of the world (see Bunce & Wolchik forthcoming, Hale 2006, or Herd 2005). Sixth, and probably most importantly, the recent transitions away from clearly defined types of authoritarian regimes without arriving at clearly defined types of democracy (or regressions to clearly defined authoritarian regime forms) has led to the emergence of types of political regimes that, so an increasing number of scholars argues, are of a distinctively new quality. In the social scientific literature this social reality is reflected by the proliferation of democracies with adjectives (Collier & Levitzky 1997, Merkel 2004) and, more recently, authoritarianism with adjectives (e.g. Levitzky & Way 2002, Schedler 2006). This paper is an attempt to reflect on these new challenges in coming up with valid measures that allow for useful comparisons between different political regimes types around the globe. This paper is structured along the ideas on concept formation formulated by Giovanni Sartori (1970 and 1984) and David Collier and collaborators (Adcock & Collier 2001, Collier & Adcock 1999, Collier & Levitzky 1997, and Collier & Mahon 1993). This literature specifies the process of concept formation and measurement by subdividing it into different levels of generality. Greatly simplifying the argument, these levels are: (1) a background and (2) a systematized concept, both derived from theory; (3) an operationalization of the systematized concept via indicators; (4) scores for cases on the indicators.