The Rise of Modern Democracy: Sequences in Comparative Perspective

Name of applicant

Svend-Erik Skaaning


Aarhus University


DKK 783,300



Type of grant

Monograph Fellowships


The project adresses the following research question: What were the dominant patterns of sequencing between subcomponents of democracy during the first wave of democratisation (1789-1920)? In my attempt to answer this question, my research will have an explicit focus on de facto respect for democratic rights (understood as broad suffrage, free and fair elections, responsible government, and freedom of expression and association). The political regime types were likely to cluster in a rather limited number of configurations, and these mattered for subsequent political stability.


There all still important gaps in our knowledge about the rise of modern democracy. First, many previous studies have been occupied with understandings of democracy rather than if citizens actually enjoyed the democratic rights in practice. Second, studies of single countries rather than comparative analyses have dominated the literature. Third, researchers have tended to read history "backwards" and stepwise, and asymmetric developments of subcomponentsof democracy have not been adequately captured.


The empirical analyses will be based on a broad comparative perspective, covering all countries in Europe and the Americas. The comparative analyses will be supplemented by a number of in-depth studies of cases representing different pathways to modern democracy. The project makes use of data on democratic rights from the novel Historical Varieties of Democracy dataset.

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