Political inclusion and the dynamics of democratization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

237 Citations (Scopus)


Once universal adult citizenship rights have been secured in a society, democratization is mostly a matter of the more authentic political inclusion of different groups and categories, for which formal political equality can hide continued exclusion or oppression. It is important, however, to distinguish between inclusion in the state and inclusion in the polity more generally. Democratic theorists who advocate a strategy of progressive inclusion of as many groups as possible in the state fail to recognize that the conditions for authentic as opposed to symbolic inclusion are quite demanding. History shows that benign inclusion in the state is possible only when (a) a group's defining concern can be assimilated to an established or emerging state imperative, and (b) civil society is not unduly depleted by the group's entry into the state. Absent such conditions, oppositional civil society may be a better focus for democratization than is the state. A flourishing oppositional sphere, and therefore the conditions for democratization itself, may actually be facilitated by a passively exclusive state, the main contemporary form of which is corporatism. Benign inclusion in the state can sometimes occur, but any such move should also produce exclusions that both facilitate future democratization and guard against any reversal of democratic commitment in state and society. These considerations have substantial implications for the strategic choices of social movements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-487
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1996


Dive into the research topics of 'Political inclusion and the dynamics of democratization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this