Democracy 's Third Wave By Samuel P. Huntington Essay

Democracy 's Third Wave By Samuel P. Huntington Essay

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In “Democracy’s Third Wave”, Samuel P. Huntington examines the creation of democracies during the third wave and questions whether they were part of a continuing “global democratic revolution” or simply a limited expansion only meant for countries that had already experienced democracy (Huntington, 1991). He does this through research based empirical study by tracing the series of events leading to democratization. There are both quantitative (in regards to economic growth and the amount/percentage of countries that democratized during all three waves) and qualitative (through historical evidence in regards to snowballing) research methods. Huntington’s examination is based on having democratization as his dependent variable and his five factors, which lead to democracy, as his independent variable. These factors, he says, enabled the third wave, and it is because of them that it occurred and progressed differently than the first two. The five factors are: newfound disapproval of authoritarian governments along with increased acceptance of democracy, global economic growth, change in the Catholic Church’s doctrine, policy changes within external actors, and snowballing effects. However, Huntington believes that, while these changes are needed, they are not enough for the creation of a democracy. While “economic development makes democracy possible; political leadership makes it real”, in other words, a country becoming democratic depends on its economic progress and the willingness of “those who exercise power” to allow a regime change (Huntington, 1991).
Huntington speaks of the important role religion plays in government throughout his writing. He states that it is because of religion that certain countries remain outs...


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...elies on elitist ideas of democracy only being achieved top-down transitions. Most countries that have achieved democratic status and successfully maintained it were created through bottom-up transitions. It is not often that a ruler will give up power if the people do not first ask to have some power for themselves. This idea that democracy can only be properly achieved if those in charge of the country are in favor of it seems slightly misconstrued. Revolutions in countries like Mexico, France and the United States were bottom-up transitions that got rid of monarchy rule and set precedence for democracy as we know today. Overall, Huntington makes an interesting argument and has several things that seem to back him up. However, his oversimplification of democracy and elitist views on how it can be achieved weaken his argument and hurt his credibility as a writer.


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