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Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy1

  • Seymour Martin Lipset (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 September 2012

The conditions associated with the existence and stability of democratic society have been a leading concern of political philosophy. In this paper the problem is attacked from a sociological and behavioral standpoint, by presenting a number of hypotheses concerning some social requisites for democracy, and by discussing some of the data available to test these hypotheses. In its concern with conditions—values, social institutions, historical events—external to the political system itself which sustain different general types of political systems, the paper moves outside the generally recognized province of political sociology. This growing field has dealt largely with the internal analysis of organizations with political goals, or with the determinants of action within various political institutions, such as parties, government agencies, or the electoral process. It has in the main left to the political philosopher the larger concern with the relations of the total political system to society as a whole.

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S. M. Lipset , “A Sociologist Looks at History,” Pacific Sociological Review, Vol. 1 (Spring 1958), pp. 1317

Russell H. Fitzgibbon , “A Statistical Evaluation of Latin American Democracy,” Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 9 (1956), pp. 607619

Is Level of Government Related to Capacity for Self-Government?American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 17 (1958) pp. 367382

C. H. Smith , “Liberalism and Level of Information,” Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 39 (1948), pp. 6582

K. Kido and M. Suyi , “Report on Social Stratification and Mobility in Tokyo, … Mobility in Tokyo, III: The Structure of Social Consciousness,” Japanese Sociological Review (January 1954), pp. 74100

O. R. Gallagher , “Voluntary Associations in France,” Social Forces, Vol. 36 (Dec. 1957), pp. 154156

Charles R. Wright and Herbert H. Hyman , “Voluntary Association Memberships of American Adults: Evidence from National Sample Surveys,” American Sociological Review, Vol. 23 (June 1958), p. 287

A. R. Radcliffe-Brown , “On the Concept of Function in Social Science,” American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 37 (1935), p. 401

Gabriel Almond , “Comparative Political Systems,” Journal of Politics, Vol. 18 (1956), pp. 391409

The Agricultural Basis of Emotional Nationalism,” Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 1 (1937), pp. 5051

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
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