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Diffusion Waves in European Democratization: The Impact of Organizational Development

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Surprisingly, waves of political regime contention in Europe have slowed down through history but have achieved more success in triggering advances toward democracy, as a comparison of the revolutions of 1848 and 1917–1919 shows. Major organizational developments account for these inverse trends. Before political mass organizations arose, ordinary people decided whether to emulate foreign challenges to established autocrats. Short on information, citizens relied heavily on inferential shortcuts and acted rashly, with little success. After the rise of mass organizations, common people took cues from their representative leaders, who had more information and greater processing capacity. Before emulating an external precedent and challenging their ruler, leaders waited for propitious circumstances. Therefore, twentieth century regime contention diffused more slowly yet with greater success.
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Document Type: Abstract

Publication date: October 1, 2012

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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