What is this course about? This course focuses on the empirical study of democracy, i.e. how can democracy be measured and compared across countries, across regions and across time? How do democracies differ from non-democracies (authoritarian, totalitarian, military regimes)? How can we track movement toward democracy and away from it? And do democracies differ amongst themselves in terms of not only how they are structured institutionally, but also whether they fulfill certain principles beyond basic electoral and human rights (i.e. participation, equality, deliberation)?
The course will begin with a conceptual-methodological section on the challenges of measuring democracy, including an overview of all of the main democracy indices currently available. It will continue with a more focused examination of the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset, which provides yearly measurements of some 400 variables of democracy for nearly 180 countries going back to 1900. The course will profile the five dimensions of democracy (electoral, liberal, participatory, egalitarian, deliberative) that V-Dem measures as well as the dataset’s many other mid-level indices. As a practical outcome, it will also make active use of V-Dem’s own data visualization tools in order to allow students to carry out their own research and prepare relevant empirical analyses. Altogether, students will obtain a solid empirical understanding of how democracy has evolved in the world and where its current challenges lie.
While the course will introduce to students a broad array of databases, on the basis of which advanced statistical research can be carried out, the course will not assume any direct knowledge of statistics. Instead, the focus is on the methodological issues surrounding the measurement of democracy and political development: how accurately can we convert concepts and notions into numbers???
What will students learn in the course? Upon completing the course, students will be able to:
- understand the conceptual structure of democracy;
- evaluate comparatively the advantages and disadvantages of current democracy indices;
- develop research questions based on given empirical data;
- prepare relevant background analyses on the evolution of democracy for given countries or regions;
- use V-Dem and other democracy measurement tools for future political analysis.
What will students do in the class? Course activities will include
- conceptual papers comparing the structure of different democracy indices
- empirical analyses of individual countries across different datasets
- background memos of particular countries and regions for policy analysis purposes
- dynamic (cross-temporal) analyses of democratization and autocratization within countries
- comparative analyses of how different ‘varieties of democracy’ in the V-Dem dataset co-vary
All required readings for the course will be uploaded to the Moodle platform.
Relevant literature will include:
Alexander, A. C., and C. Welzel. 2011. "Measuring effective democracy: The human empowerment approach." Comparative Politics 43 (3): 271-89.
Bühlmann, M., W. Merkel, L. Müller, and B. Weßels. 2012. "The democracy barometer: a new instrument to measure the quality of democracy and its potential for comparative research." European Political Science 11 (4): 519-36.
Coppedge, M., J. Gerring, D. Altman, M. Bernhard, S. Fish, A. Hicken, M. Kroenig, S. I. Lindberg, K. McMann, and P. Paxton. 2011. "Conceptualizing and measuring democracy: A new approach." Perspectives on Politics 9 (02): 247-67.
Coppedge, M. 2012. Democratization and research methods: Cambridge University Press.
Coppedge, M., S. Lindberg, S.-E. Skaaning, and J. Teorell. 2016. "Measuring high level democratic principles using the V-Dem data." International Political Science Review 37 (5): 580-93.
Coppedge, M., J. Gerring, S. I. Lindberg, S.-E. Skaaning, and J. Teorell. 2017. "V-Dem Comparisons and Contrasts with Other Measurement Projects." Working paper 45, V-Dem Institute.
Doorenspleet, R. 2015. "Where are the People? A Call for People-Centred Concepts and Measurements of Democracy." Government and Opposition 50 (3): 469-94.
Lührmann, A., K. L. Marquardt, and V. Mechkova. 2017. "Constraining Governments: New Indices of Vertical, Horizontal and Diagonal Accountability." Working paper 46, The Varieties of Democracy Institute.
Munck, G. L. 2016. "What is democracy? A reconceptualization of the quality of democracy." Democratization 23 (1): 1-26.
Skaaning, S.-E. 2017. "The Global State of Democracy Indices Methodology Conceptualization and Measurement Framework." Working paper, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
Tomini, L., and G. Sandri, eds. 2018. Challenges of Democracy in the 21st Century: Concepts, Methods, Causality and the Quality of Democracy. London: Routledge.
The course will cover the following topics:
- Conceptual dimensions of democracy
- Varieties of non-democracy
- Existing measures of democracy
- Freedom House, Bertelsmann Transformation Index, Democracy Barometer, Economist Democracy Index, Vanhanen Index, and others
- V-Dem: conceptual and empirical structure
- Profiling varieties of democracy
- electoral, liberal, participatory, egalitarian, deliberative
- Performing empirical analysis with V-Dem and other indices
- Current and future trends in democracy research