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A Centripetal Theory of Democratic Governance

$29.99 (Z)

  • Date Published: June 2008
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521710152

$29.99 (Z)

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About the Authors
  • This book sets forth a relatively novel theory of democratic governance, applicable to all political settings in which multi-party competition obtains. Against the prevailing decentralist theory (deriving from Madison and Montesquieu), we argue that good governance arises when political energies are focused toward the center. Two elements must be reconciled in order for this process of gathering together to occur. Institutions must be inclusive and they must be authoritative. We refer to this combination of attributes as “centripetal.” While the theory has many potential applications, in this book we are concerned primarily with national-level political institutions. Among these, we argue that three are of fundamental importance in securing a centripetal style of democratic governance: unitary (rather than federal) sovereignty, a parliamentary (rather than presidential) executive, and a closed-list PR electoral system (rather than a single-member district or preferential-vote system). We test the impact of these institutions across a wide range of governance outcomes.

    • A novel theory of democratic governance, applicable to all political settings in which multi-party competition obtains
    • Provides a detailed account of three different types of political institutions; unitary, executive, and a closed-list PR electoral system
    • It is synoptic, addressing a wide range of political questions about how institutions matter to public policy
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “This is an ambitious project, which asks how the design of democratic institutions affects downstream indicators of government performance, such as corruption, quality of bureaucracy, political stability, rule of law, protection of civil liberties, the capacity to tax, the provision of infrastructure, public health, illiteracy, trade protectionism, and more. Gerring and Thacker advance the controversial argument that institutions that centralize political authority outperform those that decentralize power. Scholars of comparative politics and would-be political reformers alike should take note of this important piece of work.”
    -John Carey, Dartmouth College

    “This splendid book offers a comprehensive theory, and a wide-ranging set of empirical tests, to explain why some democratic governments work better than others, and it represents is a significant addition to the growing body of evidence in favor or parliamentary government and proportional representation. It will be a touchstone for social scientists, policymakers, and constitution-drafters who are concerned with the role of formal institutions in structuring the tasks of governance.”
    -Arend Lijphart, University of California, San Diego

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521710152
    • length: 248 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.35kg
    • contains: 16 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Models of governance
    Part I. Causal Mechanisms:
    2. Party government
    3. Conflict mediation
    4. Policy coordination
    Part II. Empirics:
    5. Hypotheses
    6. Crossnational tests
    7. Assessing the evidence
    Part III. Conclusions:
    8. In defense of grand theory
    Appendix A. Defining good governance
    Appendix B. Alternative theories revisited

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Comparing Governments
    • Democratic Transition
    • Transitions to Democracy
  • Authors

    John Gerring, Boston University
    John Gerring (PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 1993) is Professor of Political Science at Boston University, where he teaches courses on methodology and comparative politics. His books include Party Ideologies in America, 1828–1996 (Cambridge University Press, 1998), Social Science Methodology: A Criterial Framework (Cambridge University Press, 2001), Case Study Research: Principles and Practices (Cambridge University Press, 2007), Concepts and Method: Giovanni Sartori and his Legacy (Routledge, 2009), Social Science Methodology: Tasks, Strategies, and Criteria (Cambridge University Press, 2011), Global Justice: A Prioritarian Manifesto (in process), and Democracy and Development: A Historical Perspective (in process). He served as a fellow of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), as a member of The National Academy of Sciences' Committee on the Evaluation of USAID Programs to Support the Development of Democracy, as President of the American Political Science Association's Organized Section on Qualitative and Multi-Method Research, and is the current recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation to collect historical data related to colonialism and long-term development.

    Strom C. Thacker, Boston University

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