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Chapter

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter deals with institutions and states. Institutions are essentially regular patterns of behaviour that provide stability and predictability to social life. Some institutions are informal, with no formally laid down rules such as the family, social classes, and kinship groups. Others are more formalized, having codified rules and organization. Examples include governments, parties, bureaucracies, legislatures, constitutions, and law courts. The state is defined as sovereign, with institutions that are public. After discussing the concept of institutions and the range of factors that structure political behaviour, the chapter considers the multi-faceted concept of the state. It then looks at the history of how the European type of state and the European state system spread around the world between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. It also examines the modern state and some of the differences between strong states, weak states, and democratic states.

Chapter

This chapter explores the relationship between the state and institutions and how political scientists theorize about them. It first provides an overview of the concept of institutions and the range of factors that structure political behaviour, noting how political, economic, and social factors determine particular outcomes, which are in turn influenced by ‘structure’ and ‘agency’. It then considers the multifaceted concept of the state and the rise of the European state, focusing in particular on the ways in which the European type of state and state system spread around the world between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. The chapter goes on to discuss the modern state and some of the differences between strong states, weak states, and democratic states, suggesting that states need legitimacy and robust institutions to be strong.

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This chapter assesses culture as a driver of democracy. Despite the popularity of cultural theories of democracy, there is little empirical evidence to support them. The chapter highlights that although research does not support the notion that cultural factors cause democratization, there is some evidence indicating that culture—as expressed through values, attitudes, and beliefs—affects the persistence of stable democracy. Once democracy has emerged, democracy is most likely to deepen and endure where elites gradually adopt a values-based commitment to the rules of the democratic game. Beyond culture, the chapter also examines several historical drivers of democracy. In particular, it focuses on the most widely discussed social and historical drivers in the academic literature, including state identity and boundaries, ethnic cleavages, and historical experience with democracy and dictatorship. For each of the drivers, the chapter considers how they influence both democratization and democratic consolidation.

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This chapter discusses the distinction between democratic and undemocratic states, noting that it is not only about whether there are elections: it is about whether or not it there is the rule of law. When both conditions are met, elections are free and fair and the government is accountable to the electorate. When laws can be bent or broken, unfair elections represent the will of governors more than that of the governed. The chapter first defines democratic states and outlines the characteristics of a democratic state before assessing the state of states today. It then considers three kinds of undemocratic states, namely: constitutional oligarchy, plebiscitarian autocracy, and unaccountable autocracy. It also examines how democratization has more often come about by trial and error rather than through gradual evolution and concludes by analysing the dynamics of democratic and undemocratic states.

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This chapter examines theories of citizenship as an important supplement to, rather than a replacement for, theories of justice. It first considers what sorts of virtues and practices are said to be required by democratic citizenship, focusing on two different forms of civic republicanism: a classical view which emphasizes the intrinsic value of political participation, and a liberal view which emphasizes its instrumental importance. The chapter then explains how liberal states can try to promote the appropriate forms of citizenship virtues and practices. It also discusses the seedbeds of civic virtue, taking into account a variety of aspects of liberal society that can be seen as inculcating civic virtues, including the market, civic associations, and the family. It concludes with an analysis of the politics of civic republicanism.

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This chapter examines the development and operation of the European Union from a comparative politics perspective. It first considers the evolution of the EU, from the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1951 that established the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) to the admission of Lithuania in 2015 as the nineteenth member of the Eurozone, and the UK’s decision to leave the EU in 2016. The chapter then explores the process of European integration and goes on to explain what it means to think of the EU as a political system. It also describes the two basic dimensions of the EU system: the vertical dimension (the EU as a ‘regulatory state’) and the horizontal dimension (the design and operation of EU decision-making). The chapter concludes by analysing the ‘missing link’ in the EU system— the lack of genuine democratic politics.

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This chapter describes how the institutional design of new democracies affect their political evolution. By institutions, it refers to formal political institutions, including political parties, electoral systems, and state design (namely federal versus unitary states). In addition to the decision to create a federal versus a unitary state, some scholars and policymakers have advocated for a consociational approach to democracy in countries that feature significant ethnic, religious or other cleavages. Consociational democracy is essentially a democracy that allows for significant power sharing—or the ability to access positions of power—among the country's various factions. Ultimately, institutions can play a particularly critical role in the consolidation and sustainment of democracy because they structure and constrain political behaviour. The chapter then considers the relationship between institutions and democratization.

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This edition provides an account of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. There are at least five broad themes that inform the text. The first is the importance of the past for understanding the present. The second concerns the complex relationship between foreign policy and America’s longer-term goals and interests. Policy makers have assumed that the international order that would best advance American interests would be composed primarily of democratic states, open markets, and self-determining nations. The third theme is the importance of the ‘domestic’ in shaping U.S. foreign policy choices, including factors such as interest groups, the role of institutions, and the power of ideas. The fourth theme relates to the issue of perspective or ‘balance’, and the fifth and final theme refers to the fact that whatever one might think of the United States past, present, or future, it is simply too important to be ignored.