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In political science, international and comparative law and economics, transitology is the name for the study of the process of change from one political regime to another, mainly from authoritarian regimes to democratic ones.[citation needed]

Transitology tries to explain processes of democratization in a variety of contexts, from bureaucratic authoritarianism and other forms of dictatorship in Latin America, southern Europe and northern Africa to postcommunist developments in eastern Europe. The debate has become something of an academic "turf-war" between comparative studies and area studies scholars, while highlighting several problematic features of social science methodology, including generalization, an overemphasis on elite attitudes and behavior, Eurocentrism, the role of history in explaining causality, and the inability to produce testable hypotheses.[1]

Notable academics[edit]

  • Dankwart Rustow, father of the theory of transitology, former Columbia University professor, and professor for 25 years at the City University of New York.[2]
  • Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize–winning economist and professor of economics at Columbia University.
  • Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University.
  • Katharina Pistor, Professor of Law, Columbia University.
  • Seymour Martin Lipset, While Lipset did not study transitology directly, his theories on the role of economic development in the survival of democracy, first articulated in "Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy, has been influential in the field.[3]
  • Larry Diamond, political science professor at Stanford University, has been significant in the development of the concept of illiberal democracy and its role in democratic transitions.[4]
  • Thomas Carothers, also significant in the development of the concept of illiberal democracy and articulating the distinction between a consolidating democracy and an illiberal democracy.[5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Rustow, D.A. (1970). Transitions to Democracy: Towards a Dynamic Model. Comparative Politics, 2(3), pp. 337–367.
  3. ^ Lipset, Seymour Martin (March 1959). "Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy". The American Political Science Review 53 (1): 69–105.
  4. ^ Carothers, T. (2002). The end of the transition paradigm. Journal of Democracy, 13(1), 5-21.
  5. ^ The End of the Transition Paradigm, Journal of Democracy, vol. 13, no 1, January 2002.