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"Do Global Citizens Truly Prefer Democracy to its Alternatives? Evaluating the Thesis of Global Democratization" Lecture by Doh Chull Shin, Center for the Study of Democracy, University of California, USA

The visit of Prof. Shin is organised by Antonio Fiori from the Department of Political and Social Sciences.

Oct 17, 2017 from 05:30 PM to 07:30 PM

Where Sala Rossa, Palazzo Marchesini, via Marsala 26, Bologna (first floor)

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The third wave of democratization, which began in southern Europe in the 1970s, has ushered in a new age of public opinion research on democratic culture and politics. The spread of democracy to more than 80 countries throughout the globe has enabled many individual scholars and research institutes to conduct waves of national and multinational surveys that monitor people’s reactions to the process of democratization in their countries and elsewhere.

In every wave of these surveys, a vast majority of the ordinary citizens expressed an affinity for democracy. Equally many also expressed their personal desire to live in a country that is governed democratically. Based on these findings, Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, and many other political scientists in the West have recently put forth the thesis that democracy is becoming a universally approved system of government or liberal democracy is emerging as the end of human history. Underlying this thesis of global democratization is the highly dubious assumption that these majorities of avowed democrats are well informed supporters of democracy.

How well or poorly do ordinary people around the world understand democracy?
Do they avow support for democracy as a regime with an informed understanding of what it is? If they do, do they also support it as a method of daily governance?

To evaluate the validity of the increasingly popular thesis in the West, I explore these questions that have largely been overlooked in the voluminous literature on democratization.

The World Values Survey and two regional barometer surveys—the Afrobarometer and Asian Barometer--are analyzed according to a two-dimensional notion of democratic knowledge, which consists of identification and differentiation. Their analyses reveal that a vast majority of global citizenries especially in post-authoritarian and authoritarian countries are either uninformed or misinformed about the fundamental characteristics of democracy and its alternatives. These findings contradict the popular thesis that democracy is universally becoming the most preferred system of government. For much of the world today, democracy represents little more than an appealing political symbol that still retains authoritarian practices.