This article lays the theoretical and methodological foundations of a new historically minded approach to the comparative study of democratization, centered on the analysis of the creation, development, and interaction of democratic institutions. Historically, democracy did not emerge as a singular coherent whole but rather as a set of different institutions, which resulted from conflicts across multiple lines of social and political cleavage that took place at different moments in time. The theoretical advantage of this approach is illustrated by highlighting the range of new variables that come into focus in explaining democracys emergence. Rather than class being the single variable that explains how and why democracy came about, scholars can see how religious conflict, ethnic cleavages, and the diffusion of ideas played a much greater role in Europes democratization than has typically been appreciated. Above all, the authors argue that political parties were decisive players in how and why democracy emerged in Europe and should be at the center of future analyses.

The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies: A New Research Agenda for Europe and Beyond’, GiovanniCapoccia and DanielZiblattComparative Political Studies, 43 (8/9) (2010): 931–968. Published by SAGE Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
locked icon

Sign in to access this content

Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

  • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
  • Read modern, diverse business cases
  • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles