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Alexander Chvorostov

Dr., Head of the Center for Comparative Eurasia Studies and Surveys, CEASS-Vienna

In recent decades, one has witnessed the rise of a relatively new stream of social research that actively and systematically applies empirical methods to the analysis of global societal transformations. Thus, one finds a multitude of open-access databases, both of purely statistical nature as well as the expert-based assessments; these data sources supply a researcher with very wide empirical material for the analysis of various trends of social development of practi-cally all countries of the world. One can mention, for instance, such widely recognized sources, as the World Bank Group, various institutions of the United Nations, national and regional sta-tistical services, or digests of countries’ key-data published in the CIA World Fact Book. These databases are complemented with a variety of thematic expert annual ratings that are provided by such agencies, as Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Fraser Institute, Transparency International, Democracy Index, and others.

All these data sources are being actively used in the applied research and practical work of many analysts, sociologists, economists, and political scientists. Accordingly, there appear also the generalizing studies of basic research nature that elaborate new concepts of societal development and suggest new and innovative tools to describe and measure macro-social changes.

As regards the area of specifically political studies that are dedicated to the analysis of contemporary dynamics of political regimes, one can mention, inter alia, several books, and papers that scrutinize the global development trends within a general discourse of societal pro-gress. These studies position various countries and nations along such axes, as “democracy — autocracy”, “progressing –lagging behind”, “efficiency — inefficiency” and similar dimen-sions. Good examples of such comprehensive and ground-breaking studies are the works of Ronald Inglehart and his colleagues from the World Value Survey project, especially the mon-ograph “Modernization, cultural change, and democracy: the human development sequence” (Inglehart and Welzel 2005). A few years later there appears another comprehensive book produced by a team from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) lead by Andrei Melville “Political atlas of the modern world: an experiment in the multidimensional statistical analysis of the political systems of modern states” (Melville, Ilyin et al. 2010). The same year, there appears a collective monograph “Knowledge democracy: consequences for science, politics, and media” (Veld 2010); two important articles have been published in International Political Science Review: “Measuring the quality of democracy: Introduction” (Geissel, Kneuer et al. 2016) and “The internal relationships of the dimensions of democracy: The relevance of trade-offs for measuring the quality of democracy” (Lauth 2016).

All these works would follow different methodological traditions or would elaborate new and innovative approaches to the analysis of modern polities; what unites these studies, is their strong adherence to the empirically grounded social research.

A distinct feature of the book of David Campbell is a conceptual methodological analysis of the approaches toward the theories of measurement of the political, social and economic order in modern societies alongside with the utilization of the solid corpus of empirical data.


Introduction and scientific contexts

Political science with a measuring tape

In recent decades, one has witnessed the rise of a relatively new stream of social research that actively and systematically applies empirical methods to the analysis of global societal transformations. Thus, one finds a multitude of open-access databases, both of purely statisti-cal nature as well as the expert-based assessments; these data sources supply a researcher with very wide empirical material for the analysis of various trends of social development of prac-tically all countries of the world. One can mention, for instance, such widely recognized sources, as the World Bank Group, various institutions of the United Nations, national and regional statistical services, or digests of countries’ key-data published in the CIA World Fact Book. These databases are complemented with a variety of thematic expert annual ratings that are provided by such agencies, as Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Fraser Institute, Transparency International, Democracy Index, and others.

All these data sources are being actively used in the applied research and practical work of many analysts, sociologists, economists, and political scientists. Accordingly, there appear also the generalizing studies of basic research nature that elaborate new concepts of societal development and suggest new and innovative tools to describe and measure macro-social changes.

As regards the area of specifically political studies that are dedicated to the analysis of contemporary dynamics of political regimes, one can mention, inter alia, several books, and papers that scrutinize the global development trends within a general discourse of societal progress. These studies position various countries and nations along such axes, as “democracy — autocracy”, “progressing –lagging behind”, “efficiency — inefficiency” and similar dimen-sions. Good examples of such comprehensive and ground-breaking studies are the works of Ronald Inglehart and his colleagues from the World Value Survey project, especially the monograph “Modernization, cultural change, and democracy: the human development se-quence” (Inglehart and Welzel 2005). A few years later there appears another comprehensive book produced by a team from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) lead by Andrei Melville “Political atlas of the modern world: an experiment in the multidimensional statistical analysis of the political systems of modern states” (Melville, Ilyin et al. 2010). The same year, there appears a collective monograph “Knowledge democracy: consequences for science, politics, and media” (Veld 2010); two important articles have been published in International Political Science Review: “Measuring the quality of democracy: Introduction” (Geissel, Kneuer et al. 2016) and “The internal relationships of the dimensions of democracy: The relevance of trade-offs for measuring the quality of democra-cy” (Lauth 2016).

All these works would follow different methodological traditions or would elaborate new and innovative approaches to the analysis of modern polities; what unites these studies, is their strong adherence to the empirically grounded social research.

A distinct feature of the book of David Campbell is a conceptual methodological analysis of the approaches toward the theories of measurement of the political, social and economic order in modern societies alongside with the utilization of the solid corpus of empirical data.

David Campbell: Democracy and innovations

A fresh monograph of an Austrian and American political scientist Prof. David F. J. Campbell “Global Quality of Democracy as Innovation Enabler” (Campbell 2019) is a com-prehensive and conceptual summarizing theoretical and empirical study. The book is pub-lished within Palgrave Macmillan’s series “Studies in Democracy: Innovation and entrepre-neurship for growth” and scrutinizes the meanings and tangible manifestations of democracy as a societal trend and mode of political, social and economic regimes in 160 countries worldwide (whether democratic or non-democratic ones) for the period of 2002-2016. The author interprets democracy as a continuum of social, political and economic modus vivendi and modus operandi of contemporary societies along various so-cietal axes and suggests a theoretical matrix and a data-driven framework that allows con-sistent cross-country as well as cross-regional comparisons. “Democracies”, “semi-democracies” and “non-democracies” are thoroughly analysed in terms of their factual func-tionality in such areas as social equality, economic and political freedom, the sustainability of development and self-organization. David Campbell concludes that there exist and co-exist a magnitude of patterns of regimes with various degrees of democratic features and the related modes of securing societal, economic and ecological sustainability. Furthermore, concludes the author, the raising quality of life can be functionally secured also under conditions of “limited” democracy or in non-democratic regimes. At the same time, in the post-industrial mode of development, when knowledge becomes the main driver of growth and sustainabil-ity, only the countries with prevailing democratic trends along all societal axes would become true winners in the global competition. The latter is exemplified, inter alia, by 35 OECD member countries.

Campbell’s monograph appears as an unprecedented and topical compendium of knowledge about the structural dynamics of contemporary societies because it is based on an in-depth and critical review of various theories of democracy measurement, systematic and highly accurate collection of empirical data as well as on the design of a modular analytical matrix. The study offers to an interested reader a clear methodological apparatus, a base of reliable and verifiable empirical data alongside a wider spectrum of possible interpretations of induced results.

In the given study, David Campbell follows rather a positivist approach that assumes a fact-based investigation and systematic observations using the empirical data. However, a sol-id theoretical background was elaborated to construct a conceptual framework of the matrix for the subsequent and systematic empirical analysis. Related empirical data can be found on the website of the Democracy Ranking Association.

The monograph is based on a series of earlier articles of the author as well as on his Habil-itation thesis that was successfully presented in 2014 at the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Vienna. For the purpose of the given publication, the theoretical back-ground was expanded and the empirical data analysis extended and complemented with fresh data.

In this essay, I review the main components of the study, the underlying concepts and analyse some practical implications of the suggested conceptual model of “measured” democ-racy.

A short review of the book was published in Democratization (Chvorostov 2019), and an extended version of it in the Russian language is accepted for the publication in POLIS (Political Studies)) (Хворостов 2020).

The article you are reading now stands for a most complete book review that has been prepared especially for the website of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). It is published simultaneously in English and Russian languages.

What is democracy?

What is democracy? It is the truth of the many truths… (“Poem on Democracy”) Campbell (2019),page xxii

What is democracy? — asks David Campbell in his introductory poetic piece originally written in German and presented in 9 languages in 11 interpretations. This is a forty lines poem of pluralism and of one thousand social blossoms and all grades of light and shad-ow of a world of a democratic polity.

Definitions and analytical frameworks

How to conceptualize and to measure democracy and the quality of democracy in global comparison? — reiterates the author in the introductory section as the main re-search question of the study (p.1) and presents in subsequent chapters a wide palette of views, concepts, models, and theories of democracy and its measurement. By doing that, Campbell emphasizes that the “boundaries” between concepts and theories of democra-cy should be regarded to be volatile, flexible and fleeting (p.2) and that “without measurement, it is difficult to envision how concepts and theories of democracy can be devel-oped further” (p.3). This is a corner-stone statement of the author. The whole book is dedicated to the reconstruction of a model that would allow the empirical measurement of different facets of democracy in a variety of countries, for which the empirical data would be available. The author hesitates to formulate any research hypotheses prior to the data are col-lected and analysed systematically within the frameworks of the elaborated functionalist and normative model. A set of twenty a posteriori hypotheses is developed only in the concluding section (Section 7.2) and these are thought to reflect the gained outcomes and to serve as guidelines for further research.

The author suggests the following working definition of democracy as a point of depar-ture:

Democracy is a system of “self-ruling”, “self-government” or “self-governance” by the people and of the people that is based on human rights (basic rights), with freedom and equality as two basic principles. Democracy represents a self-organizing system in a consequent understanding. Theory or theories about de-mocracy, therefore, are also theories about a system of self-ruling, self-government or self-governance by the people (human rightsbased). (p.12)

In the course of theoretical discussion, this basic and formal definition of democracy as a political system and a system of governance is complemented by a few further features that stand for the economic and social contexts of a political system (social ecology and economic sustainability of society) as well as for human development dimension. The author shares the point of view, according to which quality of democracy should be explained as the result of a dynamic interplay and complementary development of “human rights” and “human develop-ment” (p.26).

The implicit assumption here is that any society (not only “true” democracies) can be viewed and interpreted in terms of five basic societal features, namely freedom, equality, con-trol, sustainability and self-organization (p.14). According to the author, these dimensions constitute a quintuple matrix allowing the empirical measurements of any indi-vidual country and thus enabling cross-country comparisons.

In the suggested model, the main components of any political regime that can be empiri-cally measured are (1) the degrees of freedom, where one dis-tinguishes economic and political freedoms; (2) social equality exemplified by income and gender (in-) equalities; (3) control by the government and of the government; (4) sustainability of development measured through the re-designed Human Development Index, Gini index, rate of CO2 emissions and GDP per capita; (5) political self-organization of society understood as govern-ment-opposition cycles (pp.40-41).

The first three components would stand for the immediate (“minimalist”) features of a democratic rule, while the two further elements constitute wider (“maximalist”) contextual features of a regime (pp.24-25), to which the natural environments should be added as a dimension of social ecology (p.28).

About the quality of democracy

David Campbell interprets democracy as a dynamic and evolving substance that has mul-tiple dimensions (components) and which dimensions can be developing in different countries in a variety of directions, ranging from “positive” to “worst-case” scenarios (p.17). However, once the betterment — worsening axe is introduced, one should also define the principle di-rection of change and mark-up individual stages of such development. According to the con-ceptual framework of the author, the major composite tickers on the scale would be, for in-stance, the following ideal-typical markers: (Non-democratic regime) => electoral democracy (basic democratic frameworks) => liberal democracy (as in OECD countries) => (liberal) democracy of a higher quality (pp.10-11, p.19). One can question whether these stag-es would be progressing and evolving along a timeline, just because there could be some re-versal movements or “jumps” of political regimes in individual countries. However, the sug-gested markers would still work out as empirical labels of the presence or absence of particu-lar features of these regimes, thus characterizing the empirical qualities of them, taking the ideal marker of “higher quality democracy” as a conventional metaphor for the “final destination” in the worldwide macro-historical trend. In the words of the author, “em-pirical democracy, of course, is being challenged by more demanding concepts and theories of democracy. So, there are always tensions between what democracy-is and what democracy- could-be or democracy-should-be.” (p.11)

Campbell states:

By introducing and incorporating the concept of the quality of democracy or of theories of the quality of democracy in our framework of analysis, the interest is being emphasized and acknowledged, to have the possibility to distinguish between different levels, stages of development or qualities of democracies. “Quality of democracy” should add sharpness and precision to our reasoning and theorizing about democracy. “Quality of democracy” should make differences between democracies better visible. “Quality of democracy” should help exploring, whether democracies achieved to progress, and if so, whether such progress could be displayed. (p.17)

Hence, following this concept that assigns qualitative notions to the measured quantita-tive features, countries (societies) can be placed at their specific “development cells” within a given continuum of all polities. This continuum would have several dimensions (axes), where each axe can be enumerated in a standardized and normalized way.

Actors in a democracy

An interesting interplay of mind is sketched by the author. He starts with a famous histor-ical quotation from Abraham Lincoln, who stated (in 1863) that democracy is “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” After that Campbell cites a modern philosopher Guillermo O’Donnell, who states (in 2005) that “Contemporary democracy hardly is by the people; but it certainly is of the people and, because of this, it should also be for the people.” (See p.20).

Thus, in other words, it turns out that the real democracy (as opposed to an ideal-typical image of it) certainly ORIGINATES from (“is of…”) the people, but largely IS NOT EXE-CUTED by the people, and, however it SUPPOSES TO SERVE (be “for”) the people. This logical set of modality statements describes what the contemporary and most advanced liberal democracies de-facto are, or are not and thought-to-be. The limitations of ideal democracy as compared to real democracy can be very well understood if one takes into account the ratios of direct and indirect democracy in a society or the extent to which the institutional power is delegated to people’s representatives or executed immediately by the people (citizens, voters).

The beauty and cognitive power of Campbell’s quintuple matrix allow to empirically measuring ALL societies and a variety of political regimes, not only democratic ones. There seem to be no methodological limitations for a comparative cross-country analysis and the only constraint would be the availability and reliability of the related primary empiri-cal data.

What is “knowledge democracy” and why democracy enables innovations?

“Democracy of Knowledge” is another metaphor suggested by David Campbell and his co-author in 2012. In the given monograph, Campbell argues that the quality of democracy can also be associated with knowledge democracy. This would emphasize the importance of knowledge and innovation for the quality of democracy and the sustainable development of democracy, society, and economy. According to the author,

Expectations are that democracies with a higher quality of democracy also will be knowledge democracies. “Democracy as Innovation Enabler” has here at least the following meanings: (1) political pluralism in a democracy en-courages also a diversity of knowledge and innovation (“Democracy of Knowledge”) that is necessary for development (also economic development and economic growth); (2) advanced economies are driven by knowledge and innovation, so they require a democracy; (3) in principle, “democracy as innovation enabler” also applies to emerg-ing and developing economies, but may not always be realized and ap-plied. (p.35)

Measuring democracies in a global perspective

Why measure democracy and why do that globally?

Why there is a need to introduce a comprehensive matrix that would provide with stand-ardized and normalized measurements of polities worldwide? this question has two compo-nents. The first one addresses the necessity to quantitatively measure any polity and the sec-ond one asks for the justification of namely global approach to the measurement.

The answer to the first sub-question seems to lie within a functionalist discourse and is based on a basic assumption (and at the same time Hypothesis) of the author, who proposes that democracy functions as “innovation enabler” (p.2) and, hence, societies that are more advanced in terms of various aspects of democracy would also demonstrate higher degrees of technological innovations and the related societal advancements. Therefore, a natural research incentive would be to objectively compare different countries to verify this Hypothesis through the counterpoising of different background societal compo-nents and features of these societies (or the inputs, throughputs and outputs, using the conceptual language of the author, p.36). Thus, one would need identifying the presence or absence of democratic elements within a polity to conclude about the degree of innovativeness that would be present in this particular society in compara-tive perspective.

The answer to the second sub-question (regarding the global scale of measurement) is also driven by the research pragmatism. The author justifies his globalized approach through the need of the critical testing of “established concepts and theories of democracy (in Euro-American discourses)”, which concepts must be practically tested and verified on a sample of countries that goes beyond the very limited and “closed society” of only 35 OECD members. Campbell states that the decision to systematically study polities worldwide was necessary to secure a global comparison, “because trends in democracy and the quality of democracy may behave differently and follow (partially) different rules and patterns in emerging and devel-oping economies when put in contrast to advanced economies.” (p.46)

The author argues:

The majority of the world population does not live in OECD countries; the majority of countries in the world are not OECD countries. Therefore, when analyzing democracy only in the OECD world, it would represent per definition a “minority program” in global terms, blending out the world majority (in terms of countries and in terms of population). (p.46)

The study’s sample embraces 160 countries of the world that have a population above 1 million and the model accounts for 99% of the world population. The time-series covers the fifteen-years period of 2002 to 2016, where the starting year is defined by the availability of the critically important data provided by the Freedom House on political freedoms world-wide.

How democracy can be measured?

The author outlines two principal approaches to the empirical measurements of democra-cy. The first one would be a direct top-down deductive analysis of democracy based on sur-veys that is methodologically opposed (but analytically complemented) by an inductive bot-tom-up approach called a “democratic audit”. The former method stands for direct measure-ment of individual features of a polity and is realized, for instance, in surveys about the satisfaction with the polity (“Democracy Barometer”,) or as an ex-pert peer-review process (such as the ranking of Freedom House,). The latter method is imple-mented, for instance, in the studies of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assis-tance (p. 4-7).

The principal framework of the given study is based predominantly on the “direct meas-urement” approach (p.42).

The empirical and analytical matrix is organized as a five-dimensional space, where each dimension may have one or two sub-dimensions and is fed by one or multiple individual em-pirical indicators or combinations of those. The author deploys six principal data sources, uti-lizing the power of 13 individual indicators (p.40)

Used primary sources and the related indicators at play are as follows:

  • Freedom House (political rights, civil liberties, freedom of the press);
  • Heritage Foundation (index of economic freedom);
  • Fraser Institute (economic freedom in the world);
  • World Economic Forum (global gender gap index);
  • World Bank, World Development Indicators (Gini index, life expectancy at birth, tertiary education enrolment, GDP per capita in PPP, CO2 emissions);
  • Author’s calculations (peaceful person and party change of heads of govern-ment).

The available empirical data for each indicator per country are normalized on the scale 0 to 100, where “0” stands for theoretical minimum value and “100” represent the highest (best) achieved score of an indicator in the sample for a given year (pp.42-43).

In the case the analysis goes from the individual country scores to the level of aggregated groups or clusters of countries, a weighting procedure is applied to reflect the size of the pop-ulation of individual countries (pp.48-49).

As it was already mentioned, David Campbell adheres a kind of positivist approach in his research endeavour and prefers rather to dig into the firm primary empirical data to arrive at the generalizations and comparative outputs in a form of, for instance, multi-dimensional indexing or charts. The explorative character of the study of the observable dem-ocratic (or non-democratic) features of society serves the need to conceptualize democracy (a polity) and its qualities, which concepts would then be translated into an empirical measure-ment of these polities and their qualities in global comparative perspective (p.49).

Methodological risks and their mitigation

The author rightfully admits certain limitations of the deployed methodology that relies on empirical data from a limited number of “centralized” sources, which are freely available on the internet. Campbell admits that these data might be imperfect and to some extent bi-ased, such as indexes from Freedom House, or Heritage Foundation or Fraser Institute that are based not on the primary statistics but are rather expert-driven. At the same time, these data would “represent something like an “official world view,” but not in the sense that these data (indicators) are uncontroversial, but in the sense that there are frequent references (citations) of these data (indicators) (p.313).

to mitigate (hedge) the risks of the ambiguity of these “freedom related” data, a remarka-ble effort was applied to validate the freedom ratings by comparing these with govern-ment/opposition cycles. The validation was largely successful and it was proven that higher the freedom rating by Freedom House is, then the more of likeliness there is that frequencies of a peaceful person and party change of the (de facto) head of government also will increase (p.314).

What do the results of measurements tell us about democracy?

Weighting and regional aggregation procedures

The framework of the analytical outputs of the study is constructed in a form of several series of thematic tables and charts, where the normalized scores of individual em-pirical indicators are specifically weighted to reflect their (assigned) importance for a particu-lar sub-dimension or dimension (see pp.81-82 for the documentation of the details of weighting). The available descriptive statistics were aggregated, where needed, using the arithmetic averages as means (p.90). All the deployed data (indicators’ scores) are exhaustive-ly documented in the sets of statistical tables in the Annex (pp.351-480).

For the analytical and comparative purposes, the author builds up several partly overlap-ping reference groups of countries, such as the cluster of Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), the USA, EU15 and EU28, OECD35, Latin America 17, Asia 15 of non-OECD countries, individual BRIC countries and several further countries with significantly large population (Indonesia, Nigeria, Japan). Further clusters represent a variety of socio-political regimes, such as Social-Democratic or Liberal or Conservative welfare regimes. Alto-gether, there are 122 countries in the final sample with no missing empirical data (pp.93-94).

The results of the analysis are presented in Chapters 3 to 6 of the book and communicate, inter alia, the following messages. (Only several of the presented outputs are un-der review here, just to illustrate the types and kinds of information available in the published study.)

Comparative analysis of OECD countries

Among the 35 OECD members, the most politically free would be the four Nordic coun-tries (their regional averaged scores are very close to 100 points) and the overall trend for the whole OECD during 2002-2016 is directed downwards (87 to 83 points). The overall trend here is somewhat declining over the 15 years, except for the stable Nordic cluster.

The economic freedom is the highest in the USA (88 to 85 points throughout observation) and the related scores are lower in the Nordic region (82 to 83) and the “big” EU (EU27) demonstrates the lowest scores among OECD members (73 to 79 points). The overall trend is relatively stable, however with a significant decline in the USA.

Income equality would be the highest in the Nordic region and the lowest in the USA and the trend is overly stable in the whole OECD. The gender equality scores the highest once again in the Nordic countries and would be the lowest in Japan. The trend is directed upwards everywhere except the USA.

Human Development: the highest score would be in the USA and in the North, while all other OECD clusters were very close to each other; the general trend in the OECD cluster is upward.

Sustainable development (non-political indicators): the Northern region leads, followed by the USA. The overall trend is slightly upward.

Comparative analysis of selected non-OECD countries

Political freedom: the champions in the league would be India and Brazil (scores meas-ured at approximately 66 points) and an outsider would be China (less than 20 points). While for the given selection of countries and regions the overall trend is quite stable over the 15 years, the only country that demonstrates a significant decline in this indicator is Russia (40 to 21 points).

Economic freedom would fluctuate around 60 to 65 points in all the observed countries and clusters in this group.

Income equality: India and China would stably lead in the group’s rating, while Brazil and the Latin America as a whole demonstrate highest degrees of income inequality (though, with a trend of significant improvement). Gender inequality is gradually decreasing every-where in the group with Russia taking a lead here and India and Nigeria being at the lowest positions.

Human development as well as sustainable development (non-political indicators): Russia leads, Nigeria is an outsider.

Comparative analysis of global trends in OECD and non-OECD countries

Comparing the scores achieved by OECD35 countries the world-wide scores calculated for 122 countries (for which the full data sets were available), one can see that OECD mem-bers would be ahead of the world averages in all instances except the CO2 emis-sions. The gaps would be less for life expectancy, gender and income equality (less than 10 points) and much larger (more than 15 points) for such indicators as GDP per capita, tertiary education enrolment, political freedom, human development and the sustainability of development.

Political self-organization (peaceful change of government)

This section of the book (Chapter 6) stands for an original and independent sub-study of the author, who has analysed the structural political dynamics in 151 countries from 1990 to 2016. The summarizing table (p.273) shows the direct connection between the degree of polit-ical freedom in a country and the frequency of personal or party change in the government. For the top-third ranked countries with respect to political freedom (this group can be conven-tionally labelled as “democracies” and has an average score of political freedom of 87 points), the frequency of personal changes in the top-governmental position (prime-minister or equiva-lent) would be 7.2 times during the period of 28 years (1990-2017). This score is contrasting with only 2.8 times of personal “swings” during the same period for the countries ranked in the bottom-third (“non-democracies”) with regard to political freedom (an average political freedom score for them would be 26 points).

The statistics for party “swings” shows a similar pattern — 5.0 of average changes of a governing party in the former group of countries against 0.8 of such changes in the latter group.

Lessons learned, a set of ex-post hypotheses and other concluding remarks of the monograph

Summarizing the comparisons

Paraphrasing Leo Tolstoy’s sentence about happy and unhappy families, one can say that all societies are different, but democracies would have much more in common between them-selves as compared to all other countries.

In the concluding part of the book, the author experiments with different modes of com-parison, counterpoising the yielded empirical data for the USA and the EU15 and EU28, and the European Nordic region. Inter alia, Campbell comes to a conclusion that among the mani-fest “western-type” democracies, USA would hold the leading positions only with regard to economic freedom, while the Nordic region would represent a more advanced and competi-tive benchmark for the quality of democracy in the world (p.297). According to Campbell, “equality, particularly income equality, represents the most vulnerable “flank” of American democracy” (ibid.)

The further analytical exercises include comparisons of the OECD35 cluster with other countries or groups of countries, Latin America with Asia15, China and India alongside with Russia — each of these analyses sheds additional lights on the interplay of various structural factors characterizing the democratic features of these societies. For instance, the author con-cludes that in the triplet of China, India, and Russia, the latter is placed in all parameters be-tween a democratic India and non-democratic China, while with regard to the economic free-dom these three countries would score very similar to each other, at 64-65 points (pp.309-311).

Ex-post hypotheses that would drive the further research

The author deploys an unconventional and paradoxical method of presenting the out-comes of the study by the formulation of research hypotheses after the major empirical and explorative works have been done. However, to the taste of the reviewer, such a trick is quite justified assuming the supposed (but never openly manifested by the author) inclination to the classical approach of empirical positivism in a sense of Auguste Comte.

These twenty ex-post “explorative hypotheses” were a posteriori induced from the applied deductive analyses and the author admits that by the compilation of these hypothetical statements he would dive into a “fog of uncertainty”. This is so because that “democracy could imply to be accompanied by a pluralism of diverging and contradicting re-flections on democracy” (p.313).

The “hypothetical chapter” (Chapter 7.2) is part of the overall conclusion and constitutes one of the most intriguing sections of the book. In the next paragraph, I put all the suggested hypotheses in the form of 20 individual single sentences and present them as a plain text. I would not dare say that this textual fragment may replace the whole reasoning and argumen-tation presented in the book, but in the end effect, these statements present an excellent exec-utive summary of the whole study.

Systematic and comprehensive democracy measurement in global comparison already is possible. Multidimensional indexation or index-building of democracy [is a] (words in [square brackets] are added by the reviewer in order re-store a sentence structure) practical aspect of democracy measurement. Parallel co-design (co-development) of theory of democracy and measurement of democracy [is possible and desirable]. The effects of a specific comparative design on interpretations of democracy and quality of democracy (for example, Latin America in comparison with Asia versus comparisons within Asia) [are informative]. Economic freedom in-creases faster than political freedom. For the procedure of freedom measurement by Freedom House there is the challenge, how to measure and to demonstrate increases in high-level political freedom. Countries are more similar to each other with respect to economic freedom, but more dissimilar with respect to political freedom. Gender equality increases faster than income equality. There is a need for designing a “Medi-an” GDP per capita benchmark indicator. Freedom progresses in the world faster than equality. There is a tendency that in world context and averaged as world means the non-political indicators grow (grew) faster and express a more dynamic profile of progress, progressing and advancement than the political indicators. The whole world improved its score levels across a broad range, but the whole world (non-OECD coun-tries) improved faster than the OECD countries (2002–2016). The growth rates of scores and score levels across dimensions and indicators are (to a certain extent) struc-turally similar between OECD countries and the whole world. There may be more of a comparative win-win situation in the OECD countries, but a comparative trade-off sit-uation in non-OECD countries. With the global spreading and increasing diversity of democracy, the “concept of quality of democracy” (theory of quality of democracy) gains continuously in importance. In democracies the environmental policies may be of a higher quality, but (the industrialized) democracies frequently also cause more pollu-tions than non-democracies. Democracies are characterized by higher degrees of polit-ical swings and government/opposition cycles than non-democracies. In empirical terms the Nordic countries represent a world region that achieved the highest level of quality of democracy in contemporary context. With regard to quality of democracy, neither the USA nor the European Union lead clearly, when being compared with each other on empirical grounds. Quality of Democracy [is closely related to] Knowledge Democracy [and the latter serves as a true] “Democracy as Innovation Enabler” (pp.312-339).

Methodological issues, questions, suggestions

Concluding the review, I would like to add a few critical remarks, observations, and sug-gestions.

About the terms: “democracy” versus “polity”

An ideal type of a sustainable and prosperous society is labelled by the author as “high-quality democracy”. This labelling is justified through the reference to a “knowledge-based society”, the best conditions of which are secured under the most advanced democratic rule. To the reviewer’s taste, the author here tries to universalize the notion of democracy, presenting it as a common and desirable “final destination” of societal development. While doing that, David Campbell follows the mainstream of the Western discourse that perceives democracy as a universal value, even if he rightfully adds non-political dimensions to the analysis of polities, such as the sustainability of development, well-being of the population and the dimension of social ecology. The point is that the well-being, as well as economic and ecological sustainability, are not necessarily achieved through the means of democratic political regimes — this is one of the conclusions one can make from Campbell’s analysis, and the author stands for that as well. Hence, the reviewer would argue, the issue would be of a terminological character. In many instances throughout the whole book, the politically and culturally charged term “democracy” could rather be replaced with more ideo-logically neutral terms “polity” or “society”.

Is it only democracy that enables innovations?

Furthermore, while generally supporting the author’s reasoning (although formulated as a Hypothesis that is “still-to-be-verified”) that true democracy is an efficient inno-vation enabler (at least in the age of knowledge-based economy) and that higher quality of democracy would even better facilitate technological and societal innovations, one can ques-tion, whether the vehicle of innovations cannot successfully run under non-democratic rule. With this regard one can give some historical counter-examples, referring to impressive tech-nological and cultural advancements in the medieval Arabic world or in ancient China, under absolutely non-democratic conditions in the purist interpretation of democracy.

Structural issues

Stylistically and structurally, the book is very well and clearly shaped and one can easily navigate through the text. Such navigation would unavoidably require a certain number of repetitions of structure-related statements. However, sometimes these repetitions come in somewhat abundant volume — for instance, the information that the study is based on a sam-ple of 160 countries pops up more than 30 times throughout the text, which can be considered as excessive.

At the same time, those who would be expecting to get a comprehensive discussion on the announced theme of Democracy as Innovation Enabler (that constitutes a part of the title of the book) might be somewhat disappointed. The whole discussion and the related argumentation is limited with the reference to earlier articles published by the author and his co-author since 2009 and the one-page long formulation of the Hypothesis #20 (pp.338-339). This is preceded by one paragraph in the introductory part (p.35) that was quoted above in this review.

Is Cuba really over-educated?

The author raises a concern regarding the reliability of empirical data on tertiary education in Cuba.

Concerning the tertiary (gross) school enrolment (see Table A.2.9), one empirical problem surfaced. The reason for this was that in context of this indicator the highest score (“100”) was achieved by Cuba in 2008. To us, this empiri-cal value implausible. (p.86)

One should note with this regard that the formula for the calculation of gross tertiary en-rolment as it is developed and applied by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics assumes the relation of the total number of tertiary students to the number of persons in a country of the given age. Thus, one should not be surprized if the resulting ratio even exceeds 100%, which could happen in the cases of (a) higher participation of persons beyond the standard age (normally, the cohort aged 20 to 25 years or as defined by national legislation) and (b) significant number of foreign students (e.g. non-local population) that came to study to this country in a given year.

In Cuba for 2008, the TGER was indeed measured at 118% (jumping that high from, say 87% in 2006 and dropping back to 81% in 2011 and even to 40% in 2017). One should check the details of the national higher education policy for these years to reveal the true reasons for the high volatility of GTER in this country.

Admittedly, one can refer to a similar case of Greece, where TGER for 2016 was fixed at 126% as compared to “only” 86% in 2007.

***

Wrapping up the impressions from the reading of Campbell’s methodologically fascinat-ing, empirically challengeable and intellectually inspiring book dedicated to the ever-green theme of democracy, I can only say: well done, David! You have gained a dedicated and faithful reader in my modest person, who will be impatiently looking forward to reading your follow-up books and articles. I would dare to highly recommend reading this monograph to all fellow political scientists and students of democracy. Those who like digging into primary empirical data, playing with figures and appreciate the deductive way of reasoning would be especially pleased with the book.

I would like to conclude this essay with a famous quotation from Winston Churchill (1947): “Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that de-mocracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

Literature

1. Campbell, D. F. J. (2019). Global quality of Democracy as Innovation Enabler : measuring democracy for success, Palgrave Macmillan.

2. Chvorostov, A. (2019). "Global quality of democracy as innovation enabler: measuring democracy for success." Democratization: 1-2.

3. Geissel, B., M. Kneuer and H.-J. Lauth (2016). "Measuring the quality of democracy: Introduction." International Political Science Review 37(5): 571-579.

4. Inglehart, R. and C. Welzel (2005). Modernization, cultural change, and democracy : the human development sequence. Cambridge, UK ; New York, Cambridge University Press.

5. Lauth, H.-J. (2016). "The internal relationships of the dimensions of democracy: The relevance of trade-offs for measuring the quality of democracy." International Political Science Review 37(5): 606-617.

6. Melville, A., M. Ilyin, E. Meleshkina, M. Mironyuk, Y. Polunin, I. Timofeev and Y. Vaslavskiy (2010). Political atlas of the modern world : an experiment in multidimensional statistical analysis of the political systems of modern states. Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell.

7. Veld, R. J. i. t. (2010). Knowledge democracy : consequences for science, politics, and media. New York, Springer.

8. Хворостов, А. (2020). "Что такое демократия и как её измерить?" ПОЛИС. Политические исследования.


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