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Journal Article

The Social Requisites of Democracy Revisited: 1993 Presidential Address

Seymour Martin Lipset
American Sociological Review
Vol. 59, No. 1 (Feb., 1994), pp. 1-22
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096130
Page Count: 22
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The Social Requisites of Democracy Revisited: 1993 Presidential Address
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Abstract

In this paper I discuss the factors and processes affecting the prospects for the institutionalization of democracy throughout the world. I survey cultural and economic variables, religious traditions, various electoral systems, the importance of a participatory civil society, and the methods through which political parties should be structured to maintain stability. I conclude that, because new democracies have low levels of legitimacy, there is a need for considerable caution about the long-term prospects for their stability. In many countries during the 1980s and early 1990s, political democratization occurred at the same time as a profound economic crises. Such conditions have already caused the breakdown of democratization in a number of countries. To attain legitimacy, what new democracies need above all is efficacy, particularly in the economic arena, but also in the polity. If they can take the high road to economic development, they can keep their political houses in order. The opposite is true as well: Governments that defy the elementary laws of supply and demand will fail to develop and will not institutionalize genuinely democratic systems.

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