Theories of Dictatorships: Sub-Types and Explanations

Gustav Lidén

Abstract


Despite the third wave of democratisation, dictatorships are still a widespread global phenomenon. In recent years, comparative scholars have shown a renewed interest in such regimes, which has resulted in a significant increase in the volume of research that has been produced. However, such research is not always carried out in a cumulative fashion and, therefore, lacks the traits of a more holistic perspective. Hence, it is appropriate to review this research to try to create opportunities for more systematisation in future studies. This study does this by focusing on two approaches: that is providing definitions of non-democracies, but also developing a framework for empirical explanations of these regimes. Addressing the first approach reveals gaps in previous definitions of dictatorships, which is something that is managed by stating a theoretically founded conceptualisation. Moreover, scrutinising the typologies of dictatorships and their variants provided by previous research reveals some loosely connected or almost arbitrary alternatives. Such flaws are discussed and solutions are given. Regarding the second approach, this article discusses findings on how both the existence of and the transition to dictatorships and their variants can be systematised. The outcome is a framework that can be applied in future research. To conclude, there is still much that is unknown about both the description and the explanation of dictatorships, but by systematising recent research this article sets out a more unified strategy.

Keywords


dictatorship; comparative politics; political regimes; regime transitions

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