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Can Lipset’s theory travel through time and space? the destination Nicaragua, 1972-1998. A time series test of the social requisites of democracy.

Michalak, Katja (2011): Can Lipset’s theory travel through time and space? the destination Nicaragua, 1972-1998. A time series test of the social requisites of democracy.

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Abstract

The epigraph is emblematic of an orthodox theoretical view that ‘only in a wealthy society could a situation exist in which the mass of the population could intelligently participate in politics’ and that this relationship is universal and applicable cross time and space. Comparing ancient Greece to modern societies, arguments are made that wealthy societies prerequisite mass participating in politics as well as an avoidance of irresponsible demagogues. The development of self-restraint through wealth emerges as a universal constant through time and space. However, how universalistic is Social Requisites of Democracy cross time and space? Can we imagine or theorize the genesis of the democratic self-restraint in alternative sources? The following research design is an attempt to apply the well-known theory of Lipset’s Social Requisites of Democracy to the Central American context, and more specifically, to the Nicaraguan case. In recent years, scholars (such as e.g. Linz and Stepan, Przeworksi, Karl and Schmitter) have attempted to apply existing theories to previously unexamined areas of the world (most relevant to this paper is the application of South European and Latin American transitions and consolidations to the new democracies of Eastern Europe). But what is their goal? In order to gain a new insight of how applicable an existing theory is cross-nationally, Or to show that we cannot apply theories to multiple regions? The latter might indicate that there is specificity and uniqueness to a region or a theory.

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