Definition of Political Development Essay

Definition of Political Development Essay

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Defining Political Development
No consensus has been reached on the definition of political development; however most scholars agree it is multi-faceted concept. Comparative politics often promotes itself as an empirical field of study; however the categories, statistics and indicators we choose to measure a particular concept often reveal, at best a subconscious bias, and at worst an overt normative agenda. Furthermore, whichever definition and subcategories we decide are sufficient, political development often encompasses attributes that are difficult to measure numerically.

That being said, there are some criteria that are common across the many definitions of political development, one of which is modernisation. Prominent political scientist, Samuel Huntington, listed four sub-categories of modernisation: rationalisation, national integration, democratisation and mobilisation [insert citation]. He further concluded, of these four, only mobilisation (and participation) are measurable and applicable to developing world.

In addition, he asserted that institutionalisation is a more important facet of political development, citing four sub-categories: adaptability, complexity, autonomy and coherence. If institutionalisation is rapidly outpaced by modernisation, specifically mobilisation and participation, the end is result is political decay rather than political development.

Again, it is important to note the normative subtext that underlies these studies. In the case of Huntington, Przeworski & Limongi, and many studies on the subject, there is an implicit, and often explicit, assumption that democracy is the most developed form of governance. This cultural bias towards a Western model of government, and specifically a ...


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...one of the reasons Lipset's study has enjoyed enduring relevance. Conversely, Przeworski and Limongi [1997] limit their measurements of economic development to GNP per capita only. They did so to “stick as close a possible to the elementary descriptive pattern”. More elaborately, to establish an empirical connection between economic development and democracy, before delving into the mechanisms that connect them. Both methodologies have their advantages and limitations; however I would argue, it is important to establish a completely accurate picture of economic development, and this cannot be achieved with a single indicator.

Are political and economic development linked?
Arguably, no area has been as thoroughly researched and debated in comparative politics as the relationship between economic development and political development, specifically democratisation.

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