chapter  13
Democratization: Understanding the Relationship Between Regime Change and the Culture of Politics
ByPearl T. Robinson
Pages 31

The comparative literature on regime change offers a range of plausible explanations for the democratic ferment that began spreading across Africa in 1989. Theorists of democratization in general focus on three areas of conceptual concern: structural and contingent factors that precipitate openings in authoritarian rule. Regimes are the formal rules that link the main political institutions of the state. This chapter characterizes the major streams of the contemporary literature on democratization and democratic consolidation in Africa. It introduces a practice theory as a way of understanding the relationship between regime change and a culture of politics. The chapter emphasizes the need for political analysts to ask questions about the changing meaning of politics and the cultural and social patterns that shape and reshape the basic character of political life. Africa's human rights advocates argue that the consolidation of democracy requires the institutionalization of procedures designed to guarantee human dignity, protect individual liberty and assure public contestation.