Lipsett and The Modernization Theory of Democracy

The theory on democratization by Seymour Lipsett focuses on the relationship between economic development and the likelihood of a country to become and remain a stable democracy. In the 1959 article “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development,” Lipsett hypothesizes that the more developed a country is economically, it is more likely that the country would be a democracy and be characterized by a more stable political situation overall.

For his study, Lipsett looks at a number of countries in both Latin America and Europe and uses several different indices such as per capita income, education levels, the percent of a countries population employed in the agricultural sector, and urbanization. Even though the indices were presented separately, they point in favor of Seymour Lipsett’s initial hypothesis that democracy and the level of development within societies are interconnected and show that if a country is more economically developed, the chances for the emergence of a democratic political system is much higher than for underdeveloped countries.

Lipsett’s study also suggests that the first step in modernization is urbanization, which is followed by media growth and literacy. The next stage is rapid industrial development, which fosters improved communication networks. The growth of advanced communication networks, in turn, encourages the development of formal democratic institutions such as voting and citizen participation in the decisions of their governments.

This article is a response to the article “Some Social Requisites of Democracy,” written by Seymour Lipsett in 1959 and available at: http://eppam.weebly.com/uploads/5/5/6/2/5562069/lipset1959_apsr.pdf

the author

Matt is a graduate of Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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