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Southeast Asia - Essay Example

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Southeast Asian countries are characterized by their standing as transitional states as none of them are fully democratic. On the one hand, Japan and South Korea are increasingly becoming democratic although authoritarian tendencies in general are deeply embedded in their political system…
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, Southeast Asia stands as typical case for examining the effectiveness of the theoretical models of democratic transition. In addition, the ethnically diverse countries of Southeast Asia are noted for their rapid economic development and corresponding political upheavals. In acknowledging the possibility of sustainable alternative regimes to democracy, this literature appears to significantly depart from modernization theory's
linear conception of political development that was implicit in earlier transition theory. But how adept is this work in explaining, as opposed to characterizing, regimes that don't seem to conform to prevailing ideal types of authoritarianism or democracy What light can it shed on the particular paradox mentioned above And just how far has it shifted from the primary assumptions of modernization theory In part this is due to the persistent preoccupation with understanding how to achieve democratic transition. This tends to steer analysis away from a full understanding of the forces behind different regime directions in favor of prescriptions to correct democratic institutional deficiencies. A related problem is the narrow framework within which analysis is conducted, whereby institutions loom large but their relationships to wider power structures are either ignored or under-theorized. For this reason, much of the debate about preferred institutional design to promote or improve democracy within this literature may be informed by idealist, liberal optimism rather than a realistic assessment of the foundations and dynamics of regime power. This is not to deny attempts have been made to incorporate socio-economic and structural factors into analysis, but these have not been linked to any wider analysis of capitalist development and its implications for the exercise of power and related conflicts.
Revisiting the Theories of Democratic Transition
There are many contesting theoretical perspectives which attempt to explain the intricacies of political transition. It has been generally observed that theories of democratic transition are not really successful in explaining the process of political development in the postcolonial societies. However, the relationship between economic development and political transition against the experiences of third world countries could be explained using the existing theoretical frameworks of democratic transition with adequate alterations and modifications. Both Marxist and Weberian approaches are useful for this purpose as "the modern effort to relate changes in political regimes to changes in the underlying economic structures takes off largely from the grand theorizing of late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly that done by Karl Marx and Max Weber" (Crouch and Morley, 1993, p. 313). It does not mean that both Marxist and Weberian schools of thought are equally useful in all the social contexts. Generally speaking, Marxist theories are more effective for analyzing the cases of developing countries which are locked in the mirage of war and imperialism. On the other hand, Weberian theories are commonly used for analyzing the political process of advanced industrial societies of the west as liberal democracy attained almost divine status in the West vis--vis the development of communism in the east. Lipset was a pioneering figure in bringing in the ideas of Weber for the analysis ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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