The Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion

  • Edited Christopher Hobson and Milja Kurki

    ISBN-13: 978-0-415-59687-9
    August 2011

    How do different meanings of the concept of ‘democracy’ operate in democracy promotion? How do conceptual decisions influence real political events? How is policy and reflection on democracy promotion shaped by the way different practitioners and scholars understand democracy?

    The Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion explores the way in which the meaning, content and context of ‘democracy’ are interpreted by different actors in democracy promotion, and how these influence political decisions. Introducing a theoretically new approach to the study of democracy promotion, the volume shows how the alternate ways that democracy can be understood reflects specific interpretations of political and normative ideals, as well as being closely tied to social power relations, interests, and struggles between political actors. With original contributions from some of the most prominent specialists on democracy promotion and democratization, the book examines a number of concrete cases of democracy promotion and contestation over democracy’s meaning.

    Re-examining democracy promotion at its time of crisis, this book will be of interest scholars and students of democracy and democratization, politics and international relations, international law, development studies and political theory.

    This book is part of a larger project, Political Economies of Democratisation, funded under the auspices of the European Research Council’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013), ERC grant agreement 202 596.  All views expressed are those of the authors.

    It [the book] is the most serious effort yet coming from the scholarly research community to raise hard questions about the conceptual bases of international democracy support, about models and methods, principles and practices, entry points and end points. … The result is a volume that could play a valuable role in the larger effort to reconsider and renovate international democracy support.

    Thomas Carothers, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

    About the Editors

    Christopher Hobson is a Research Associate at UNU-ISP. Milja Kurki is a Lecturer in International Relations Theory in the International Politics Department at Aberystwyth University and the Principal Investigator of ‘Political Economies of Democratisation’ (European Research Council, 2008-2012).

    Table of contents

    Introduction: The Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion
    by Christopher Hobson and Milja Kurki

    Part I: Orientations

    • On “Cultivating” Democracy: Enlivening the Imagery for Democracy Promotion
      Laurence Whitehead
    • Conceptualizing Democratization and Democratizing Conceptualization: A Virtuous Circle
      Piki Ish Shalom
    • Liberalism and Democracy Promotion
      Beate Jahn
    • The Past and Future of Social Democracy and the Consequences for Democracy Promotion
      Sheri Berman
    • Democracy Promotion: Neoliberal vs. Social Democratic Telos
      Heikki Patomäki
    • Misunderstanding the Maladies of Liberal Democracy Promotion
      Richard Youngs

    Part II: Cases

    • The Conceptual Politics of Democracy Promotion in Bolivia
      Jonas Wolff
    • Liberal Democracy Promotion and Civil Society Strengthening in Ghana
      Gordon Crawford and Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai
    • Concepts of Democracy among Donors and Recipients of Democracy Promotion: An Empirical Pilot Study
      Valerie J. Bunce and Sharon L. Wolchik
    • Arab Democratization and the De-imagining of Authoritarian Community: Beyond Orientalism & Occidentalism
      Larbi Sadiki
    • The Conceptual Politics of Democracy in International Law
      Hilary Charlesworth
    • From ‘Fortunate Vagueness’ to ‘Democratic Globalism’: American Democracy Promotion as Imperialism
      Tony Smith

    Conclusion: Reflections on a New Approach in a New Era of Democracy Promotion
    Christopher Hobson and Milja Kurki