Research Team 1: Persistence and Change in Non-Democratic Regimes
With the expiration of the “third wave of democratisation”, the number of non-democratic regimes has largely remained constant. In addition, the international influence of a number of authoritarian states, particularly China, has risen noticeably, while some supposedly established democracies have suffered such an extensive decline in quality that they now have to be viewed as hybrid regimes. The former self-certainty of the Western model of democracy is increasingly faced with the question of whether we are experiencing a “turning of the tide” in favour of illiberal political models. Against this background, the empirical and theoretical analysis of non-democratic regimes is gaining increasing importance.
The research team’s aim is to explore the logic of how authoritarian and hybrid regimes in non-OECD regions function and to analytically understand their similarities and differences as well as their transformation processes and developmental shifts. Not only are institutionally oriented attempts at explanation reflected, but the relevant and so far only rudimentarily explored legitimisation strategies of the regimes concerned – for instance, the patronage-oriented maintenance of power – and of their supporting actors and institutions, are also explored. The relational and differential sociological approaches from research on civil society, associations, and the public sphere, together with approaches from social-movement research, are applied. The central questions explored by the members of the RT within the scope of individual projects include the following:
- Which legitimisation strategies do authoritarian regimes pursue, and are these strategies successful? What role do economic performance, the strategic distribution of resources to certain parts of society, and the normative justification of rulership and the preservation of power play in this context?
- Which processes of adaptation to international and economic standards, as well as related processes of learning and interaction, can be observed among non-democratic and, above all, authoritarian regimes?
- How are political actors and institutions in non-democratic regimes interrelated, and are there lasting alliances among them? Which governance outcomes do civil society organisations and actors in particular generate, and what role do they play when it comes to the maintenance of undemocratic regimes?
- Which factors favour the development of neo-patrimonial forms of rulership in non-democratic regimes?
The functioning of authoritarian and hybrid regimes can also be effectively elaborated by looking at selected parts of the regime, policy fields, issues or conflicts. For this purpose, single case studies intended to generate explanatory theoretical approaches can be of great value. However, the RT’s focus is designed to be comparative (with small and large numbers of cases) and to aim for explanatory theoretical approaches with a medium reach. These concern, not least, the extent to which region-specific characteristics that allow for convincing typologies can be detected, or the extent to which cross-regional characteristics are decisive factors.
- Theoretical and conceptual approaches from the research on authoritarianism, democracy, and transition
- Neo-institutionalism, historic institutionalism
- Legitimation theory approaches (Weber, Lipset, Easton, Beetham)
- Relational and differential sociological approaches from civil society, associations, and public-sphere research (Gosewinkel/Rucht, Armony, Warren, Alexander), as well as approaches from social-movement research (“Political Opportunity Structures Approach”, “Resource Mobilisation Approach”, “Contentious Politics”, “Framing” approaches)
Current Research Projects
Members of RT 1
Bünte, Marco (IAS)
Elischer, Sebastian (IAA, Ph.D. student)
Erdmann, Gero (IAA)
Eucker, Dennis (IAS, Ph.D. student)
Gerschewski, Johannes (IAS, Ph.D. student, associate)
Hoffmann Bert (ILAS)
Holbig, Heike (IAS, associate)
Köllner, Patrick (IAS)
Lucas, Viola (IMES)
Richter, Thomas (IMES, team spokesperson)
Schucher, Günter (IAS)
Soest, Christian von (IAA)
Stroh, Alexander (IAA, Ph.D. student)
Sunik, Anna (IMES)
Ufen, Andreas (IAS)
Eva Wegner (IMES)
Wischermann, Jörg (IAS)