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V-Dem Seminar with Michael Bernhard

Research profile seminar


Political scientists have paid increasing attention to civil society as an important realm of organization in explaining a range of outcomes across political systems. In this paper we address a range of outcomes on the quality of political representation using new resources to study the impact of civil society from the new Varieties of Democracy dataset. Owing to its unprecedented temporal and spatial scope and the richness of its indicators for various dimensions of civil society, the V-Dem dataset allows us to test many hypotheses related to the relation between civil society and various political outcomes in a general way that was previously not possible. We examine the sources of government responsiveness to interests in civil society as a product of the nature of civil society organization and the degree of social activism, and we also explore if such responsiveness helps to increase other forms of representative accountability and if its absence leads to the channeling of unmet social demands through anti-system activism. After assembling a dataset of the countries of the world for the years 1960-2010, we use Bayesian regression models that allow us to account for the measurement uncertainty incorporated in the V-Dem data and test numerous hypotheses about the relationship between civil society and political outcomes. Our results largely confirm the positive effect that a robust and participatory civil society has on government responsiveness and accountability as well as political stability. We also find, contra an older literature on neo-corporatism, that a pluralistic civil society environment with many small organizations performs best in promoting stability, which bolsters the findings of a more recent literature on civil society and participatory democratic institutions.


Michael Bernhard holds the Raymond and Miriam Ehrlich Chair in Political Science at the University of Florida. His work centers on questions of democratization and development, both globally and in the context of Europe. Among the issues that have figured prominently in his research agenda are the role of civil society in democratization, institutional choice in new democracies, the political economy of democratic survival, and the legacy of extreme forms of dictatorship.

Date: 9/27/2017

Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Categories: Social Sciences

Organizer: Department of Political Science

Location: B336, Stora Skansen

Contact person: Natalia Stepanova

Page Manager: Lars-Olof Karlsson|Last update: 3/3/2008

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