Lecture 11 October 25

Lecture 11 October 25 - Today in Comparative Politics...

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Today in Comparative Politics Democratic Transitions Collective Action True?
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How do democratic transitions occur? External imposition : external forces impose democracy Bottom-up transition : people rise up to overthrow an authoritarian regime Top-down transition : dictatorial ruling elite introduces liberalizing reforms that lead to a democratic transition
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Bottom-Up Transitions East Germany 1989 Protests on the streets of Berlin and Leipzig in 1989 forced the East German government to open up the Berlin Wall and allow free elections. Result: reunification of Germany
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East Germany 1989 Collapse of communism came as a great surprise to almost everyone. Communist regimes had seemed very stable. Few uprisings or revolts in Eastern Europe Berlin, 1953 Poland, 1956 Hungary, 1956 Czechoslovakia, 1968 Poland, 1981
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Protests have been important in other transitions to democracy Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989 Overthrow of Ceaucescu in Romania in 1989 People Power Revolution that overthrew Marcos in the Philippines in 1986 June Resistance which led to democratic elections in South Korea in 1987
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Questions How can we explain such bottom-up transitions? Why did the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe occur in 1989 and not earlier? Why did Eastern Europe seem so stable before 1989? Why are revolutions so rare? Why are they hard to predict?
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Collective Action Theory Focuses on forms of mass action or “collective action” such as the protests in East Germany Typically, collective action concerns the pursuit of “public goods” by groups of individuals.
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Collective Action Theory A public good has two characteristics: Non-excludable: If the good is provided, everyone gets to enjoy it. Nobody can be excluded from it. Non-rivalrous: If someone consumes the good, there is still just as much for everyone else to consume. Examples Lighthouse Park Democracy itself
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Collective Action Problem Public goods are clearly quite desirable. One might expect that groups of individuals with common interests would act collectively to achieve those interests. Compelling reasons to doubt that, though Difficulty: “collective action problem” or “free-rider problem”
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Cooperation problems Cooperative hunting and warfare Exploitation of common pool resources Climate change Teamwork in organizations Collective action Demonstrations in Tehran Voting Basic problem Cooperative behavior has a positive externality Hence, private marginal benefit is smaller than social marginal benefit, leading to underprovision
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Some groups do overcome free rider problem Public radio does get a significant share of funding from listener-supporters.
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