Mobilizing for and against democracy (MODE)

Image credit: Unsplash

Jun 1, 2030 1:00 PM — 3:00 PM

Host institution: Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

PI: Hanne Fjelde

Duration: 2020-2023

Funder: Norwegian Research Council (12 mill NOK, approx 1.2 mill EUR)


In many countries across the world, the struggle over democracy remains a real and pressing concern. Yet, whereas some pro-democracy movements have been successful in prompting democratization, others have been violently shut down by dictators who successfully clung to power. Some movements that initially prompted real democratic gains have later seen these reversed. Why do some pro-democracy movements succeed, while others fail? This project proposes that one answer to this important question can be found in the characteristics of the social-group coalitions that mobilize to support or oppose democracy. Mobilizing for and against Democracy (MoDe) will — through novel theory-development, an ambitious data collection, and a combination of state of the art statistical and qualitative research — offer a comprehensive picture of how democratization trajectories have been shaped by the interest, capacity and interaction of the social groups involved – from the French revolution to the present. The focus on social groups is not novel: many scholars note how regime preferences are shaped by social groups’ standing in the economy. Yet, in lieu of comprehensive data, these conjectures have been tested with imperfect, macro-economic proxies. In addition, few studies have looked beyond economic interests to consider a broader range of groups, such as the church, students, military or ethnic groups – thereby potentially downplaying the role of values and ideas, such as nationalism, liberalism, or religious conservatism in shaping democratization trajectories. An actor-oriented approach to democratization will offer new and valuable insights, not only on the likelihood of democratization, but also for understanding the risk of violence during democratic transitions; the type of institutions implemented in the post-transition regime; and the long-term prospect for democratic consolidation.

Sirianne Dahlum
Sirianne Dahlum
Professor in Political Science