POL201Y1 Lecture Notes - Nelson Mandela, Berlin Wall, Social Forces
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January 24 – Democratization
The Third Wave – Samuel Huntington
Wave Definition: “a group of transitions from non-democratic to democratic regimes that occur
within a specified period of time, and that significantly outnumber transitions in the opposite
directions during that period.”
There have been three waves: 1828-1942 peaking 1924, 1942-1973 peaking 1958, 1974-present
not yet peaking.
First Wave: resulted because of industrialization
Second Wave: After WWII, countries became democratic in two ways: imposition (Germany,
Japan and Italy) & decolonization (Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria and India).
Third Wave: Started with the end of dictatorship in Portugal in 1974. At the time of the
beginning of the third wave, there were only 41 democratic countries, but has since then
expanded dramatically. An enormous moment was the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Many Cold
War proxy wars were fought in Africa, such as Angola where Cuba sent soldiers, South Africa
sent soldiers, and even the CIA was involved. But the conflicts ended with the end of the USSR.
In Benin a group of civil society created a conference and declared itself democratic. South
Africa Nelson Mendela was released, and the first elections were held. Before this, in 1990, there
were only three democratic African countries. It started a wave toward democracy across Africa.
It’s known as the second liberation. The first being decolonization. Today, about 3/5 of the world
states are democratic.
In the third wave, democracy came about due to negotiation.
Modernization Theory: Democratization is a long process – driven by social forces, cultural and
economic transformation. A long social process of economics. This explains the first wave, but
not the second or third. The problem with Modernization Theory is that it assumes that all
countries will take the same path toward democracy. But in 1974 you have democratic countries
that don’t appear to have gone through the process of modernization. There is no particular
mechanism to Modernization, it’s a theory where one thing just kind of leads to the next. It’s a
structural argument, the structure in this case is industrialization.
Transitions Theory (Third Wave) “elites craft democracy”
!Political elites – Made choices and decisions that resulted in democratic systems.
Opposition leaders had backing by the people who lost faith in the authoritarian government.
In the face of this, authoritarian leaders realize they can no longer govern their countries, so
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