Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Craig M. Kauffman
Democratization is the process through which a political regime becomes democratic. The explosive spread of democracy around the world over the last 35 years radically transformed the international political landscape from one in which democracies were the exception to one in which they are the rule. Interest in democratization is high among academics, policy makers, and activists alike, in large part due to the strengthening of international norms that associate democracy with many positive attributes, from human rights to economic prosperity to security. After briefly describing historical trends in democratization, this entry first explores definitional issues and then examines alternative explanations of democratization. Transitions to and from democracy tend to occur globally in waves, meaning they are clustered in both space and time rather than distributed randomly. Samuel Huntington identified three main waves of democratization. The first wave (1826–1926) accompanied the expansion of suffrage, principally in Europe and the United ...