February 20, 2015

Brittany Webb

Major and Classification

Political Science, International Relations

Faculty Mentors

  • Professor Steven Lamy

Department

  • International Relations

McNair Project

“Democratic Stability Theory in Africa”

The Bush Doctrine characterizes underdeveloped third-world nations as weak states, capable of posing a threat to U.S. national interests. In an effort to alleviate some of the elements that contribute to these nations’ vulnerability, the U.S. government has expressed a commitment to aiding in the stabilization of these nations through democratization. Theories of democratic stability have hypothesized necessary components of stable democracy, but most of them have done so using western democracies as their unit of measure. Since most of the countries targeted by democratic stabilization efforts tend to be non-Western, my research explores the possible predicament basing methods of democratic stabilization on theories born out of (mostly successful) Western democracies when the very democracies targeted by stabilization are vastly different from Western democracies. This paper summarizes Harry Eckstein’s theory of democratic stability, highlighting what fuels democratic stability. It then applies Eckstein’s theory to Africa, exploring what Eckstein’s theory of stable democracy says about democracy in Africa, and what democratic stabilization efforts in Africa say about democratization.