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Lunch » Tags » Untagged » Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe » User review

loose analysis

  • Aug 15, 2012
  • by
When reading this book, two concerns immediately struck me. First, on what were Linz and Stepan basing their analysis? They provide definitions about consolidated democracy, types of authoritarian regimes, and the effects of various types of transitions, but it's not clear from what evidence they draw their conclusions. In fact, they seem to be pulling some of their conclusions out of thin air. This might be OK for one or two definitions, but it's hard to follow a book that ranges so wide and far without being able to see or follow their logic.

Second, the book focuses on Europe and South America. I presume those are the authors' areas of expertise. However, this focus is both too wide and too limited. It's too wide in the sense that the regions aren't similar so comparisons are sometimes strained too far. After all, the totalitarian cases come primarily from one region (Europe) while the military juntas from another (South America). The case selection is too narrow in that there are plenty of cases outside these regions which undermine the authors' theories (such as China and Vietnam).

Overall, this is yet another example of how unfocused analysis leads to unfocused answers. There are some useful portions of the book worth skimming through, and I like the use of charts to summarize the theories. This might be worth skimming through to get ideas for future research, but read it with skepticism and a questioning mind.

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About the reviewer
Dominic J Nardi ()
Ranked #79
I am a recent law school grad with an interest in Southeast Asia legal issues. Unfortunately for my checkbook, ever since high school I have been addicted to good books. I have eclectic tastes, although … more
About this product


An absolutely major work that represents probably the most significant contribution to the burgeoning literature on democratization over the past decade and the most ambitious effort to move the debate beyond the seminal work on transition, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy by Guillermo O'Donnell, Philippe Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead (1986), by considering the problem of democratization in light of the dramatic regime changes in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

(Gerardo L. MunckSlavic Review)

This is an important volume by two major scholars on a central topic—one of broad interest to people in comparative politics, to those interested in democracy, and to regional specialists on Southern Latin America and on Central and Eastern Europe. The book will unquestionably be a major contribution to the literature on constructing democratic governance.

(Abraham F. LowenthalUniversity of Southern California)
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