Democracy and Democratization

  • Georg Sørensen
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)

The world today is more liberal than it ever was; more than 40 countries made transitions toward democracy between 1974 and 2007. As a result, the number of democratic regimes has increased from 40 to 90 countries. The transitions began in Southern Europe; the next wave was in Latin and Central America. Then came the democratization of Eastern Europe; the most recent wave has been in Africa and the former Soviet Union. Finally, transitions toward democracy have taken place in Asia during the entire period since the early 1970s (Sørensen 2008). These transitions were termed the “third wave” of democratic expansion by Samuel Huntington (1991); the earlier waves were in the nineteenth/early twentieth century and after World War II. They led to great liberal optimism including the claim that mankind had reached “the end of history” (Fukuyama 1989) because there were no longer significant ideological rivals to a liberal democratic form of regime. But already some years ago, scholars began to speculate that the third wave of democratization was over (Diamond 1996); they have a point. In several countries, there have been reverses toward authoritarian rule. Furthermore, most of the countries that experienced transition are not yet full democracies; they are in the early phases of democratic opening or they have entered a situation of democratic “standstill.”


Civil Society Ethnic Identity Gray Zone Democratic Transition Democratic Consolidation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georg Sørensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversit of ÅrhusÅrhusDenmark

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