Diffusion and the International Context of Democratization

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Gleditsch, Kristian Skrede & Michael D. Ward (2006) Diffusion and the International Context of Democratization, International Organization 60(4): 911–933.

Democracy does not evolve sui generic. The spatial clustering in democracy and transitions suggests that international factors play a prominent role in forging democracies as well as influencing their durability. We argue that democracy often comes about as a result of changes in the relative power of important actors and groups as well as their evaluations of particular institutions, both of which are often influenced by forces outside the country in question. The scope and extent of connections with other democratic countries in a region can strengthen support for democratic reform and help sustain institutions in transitional democracies. Results from a transition model demonstrate that international factors can exert a strong influence on the prospects for transitions to democracy, and the spatial clustering in democracy and transitions cannot adequately be explained by the hypothesized domestic social requisites of individual countries.


Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Kristian Skrede Gleditsch

Regius Professor, University of Essex; and Research Professor, PRIO