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Hybrid Regimes: A Social Foundations Approach

Rodan, G. and Jayasuriya, K. (2012) Hybrid Regimes: A Social Foundations Approach. In: Haynes, Jeffrey, (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Democratization. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, London, England, pp. 175-189.

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By the turn of the twenty-first century a new concept was gaining traction in accounting for disappointed expectations of the so-called 'third wave' of democratization: the hybrid regime. The now pervasive influence of the concept reflects diverse attempts to describe and explain the absence or partial nature of democratization in many countries around the world. It emphasizes not just the combining of elements of both democracy and authoritarianism, but also the possibility of qualitatively distinct regimes transcending existing categories.

For some, hybrid regimes are necessarily transitory ones, even if their collapse is not imminent. Other theorists countenance the possibility that we may be witnessing the development of sustainable regime alternatives to democracy. Crucially, the very notion of a hybrid regime is a manifestation of transition theory's underlying assumption that capitalism and liberal democracy are natural partners. This has constrained regime analysis, systematically discouraging more open-ended enquiries into the nature and causes of political change outside the West.

Thus, despite greater recognition of the complexity and uncertainty of democratic consolidation and transition, much hybrid regime literature is consumed with developing detailed descriptions and typologies of different hybrid regime variants. Moreover, as per the earlier transition paradigm, analysis remains largely focused on the institutional and strategic incentives of political actors to engage with and support 'competitive authoritarian' or other forms of hybrid regimes, with evaluation of the functional quality of political institutions against democratic criteria a central focus.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Asia Research Centre
Publisher: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Copyright: The Author
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