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Democracy Paperback – April 2, 2007

2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521701532 ISBN-10: 0521701538 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"Charles Tilly in Democracy greatly enriches the literature on transitions in and out of democracy by combining conceptual clarity with an enormously broad knowledge of comparative history, and in the process answers some key questions about the way that institutions interact with social processes."
Francis Fukuyama, Johns Hopkins University

"Tilly's trenchant new book brings his forceful insights about politics together in a cogent theory. Tilly revolts against mechanistic theories, describing democratization as an ongoing process of progress and reversal. To replace the simple recipes of the past, Tilly proposes three master processes that shape democracy: the suppression of independent powers, the elimination categorical inequality, and the integration of trust networks into the polity. In a historical tour of the last fifty years, Democracy shows that his process model works for Kazakhstan, South Africa, and beyond. Tilly has thrown down the gauntlet. It is up to the stalwarts of classical democracy theory to read and respond."
Frank Dobbin, Harvard University

"In a field teeming with first-rate scholarship, Democracy stands out as a deeply original and exciting contribution. Tilly seeks out the profoundly contentious processes that have slowly moved states along a democratic path or that have moved them -- alas, generally much more rapidly -- away from democracy. Scholars will be debating this book's provocative propositions for a long time."
John Markoff, University of Pittsburgh

"In this compelling work, Charles Tilly brings his unrivaled historical knowledge to bear on fundamental questions of democracy. His argument focuses on long-run social processes, not only those that further democratization but also those that often rapidly undermine it. In restoring the centrality of history to scholarship on democratization, he sets a research agenda that will occupy scholars for some time to come."
Elisabeth Jean Wood, Yale University and the Santa Fe Institute

"Democracy is more celebrated than understood. This inquiry by the great historical sociologist offers an important reinterpretation of the global advancement and retreat of democracy. Drawing on several decades of work on collective action in modern societies, Tilly fashions an innovative framework to track the processes of democratization and de-democratization across the centuries... This book is essential reading for those eager to see democracy spread further around the world. But its message is sobering: outsiders can make a difference, but their efforts must be aimed at strengthening the deep building blocks of open, trusting, accountable, and noncoercive societies."
Foreign Affairs

"Building upon decades of pioneering work in the study of collective action, Tilly considers whether, where, and how democracy can be created - and dismantled, too. This is not a brief introduction to the concept, but an original rethinking of the contingency of democratic processes. As usual, Tilly combines an easy sense of humor with historical depth and a fearless range across cases in Europe and beyond. There is a kind of practicality about Tilly's work that makes it eminently accessible and equally essential. He shows us that social movements and the habits they foster do matter and that, in short, democracy can happen." European Studies Forum

"Tilly has written a lively and eminently readable study of democracy and democratization...In a field experiencing renewed interest in the topic of democracy, Tilly's book is a groundbreaking contribution that will no doubt attain the status of a classic."
Jose A. Aleman, Journal of Politics

"Over the years, Tilly has accumulated impressive historical and theoretical knowledge, and this new book is yet another testimony of his lasting contribution to the fields of historical, comparative, and political sociology."
Daniel Beland, Canadian Journal of Sociology

Book Description

Democracy identifies the general processes causing democratization and de-democratization at a national level across the world over the last few hundred years. Through analytic narratives and comparisons of multiple regimes, mostly since World War II, this book makes the case for recasting current theories of democracy, democratization, and de-democratization.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521701538
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521701532
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Music Fan on April 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
Chuck Tilly's latest book is an ambitious work, and sets out to provide an explanatory account of the emergence of democracy in the modern world. In short, Prof. Tilly argues that there are three key processes crucial to the emergence of democracy - these being the integration of trust-based social networks into public politics, the insulation of public politics from the major inequalities in society, and the reining-in of "autonomous centers of power" by which he means private militias, religious sects and the like. As always, Prof. Tilly's work is highly readable, often entertaining, and chockfull of rich historical details. This relatively slim book is well-organized into 8 intuitive chapters, and amply illustrated with easy-to-understand diagrams and boxes.

The book's greatest strengths are its conceptual clarity (succinctly laid out in the opening chapters) and sweeping historical perspective (examples cited range from peasant protests in contemporary China to the failed negotiations in 431 BCE that led to the Second Peloponnesian War). Unfortunately, with regard to the main explanatory objective of the book, the author fails to fully deliver.

Part of the problem is the analytical style adopted by the author. While I believe that a rigorous historical analysis can be as compelling as the most sophisticated statistical model, analysis also has to far transcend mere narrative. Consider for instance the chapter on trust. The author provides a colorful narrative of the growth of ethnic/religious social networks in 19th century America and their role as vote-getting mechanisms in the party machines.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephen B. Parliament on October 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Prof. Tilly's analysis of democratic theory and practice was insightful and supported by excellent historical examples. I highly recommend it to students and scholars of democratic theory.

Steve Parliament
University of Wisconsin River Falls
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