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Completed research programms

Completed research programms

Research Professorship
"Comparative Study of Democracy"

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      Professor Dr. Max Kaase
(until Sep 30, 2000)

  Research Goals

The transformation of many totalitarian communist states into one or another form of pluralist western-style democracy signals a new era in research on democratic regimes. In the OECD world, after the end of World War Two the primary challenge was to understand and to cope with fascism, its conditions and consequences. In the late sixties, in these countries a debate started on the bases and extent of legitimacy of the democratic political order and on the need to further democratize the institutions, structures and processes of democratic politics. This debate which raged for more than a decade particularly revolved around the future potential of the mode of democratic governing, a potential which many saw as not particularly promising. The epochal change in the East put an end to these discussions, but did not quite mark the "end of history," although it gave the democratic belief an enormous amount of reinforcement. Accompanying this, new problems and options for democracies are now coming to the fore.

For one, the loss of the communist counter-ideology has created a vacuum which results in a need to look much more closely than in the past into the specific way how different institutional variants of democracy operate in terms of innovative capabilities, effectiveness, responsiveness and accountability of political elites vis-à-vis the public at large. At the same time, the macropolitical changes will clearly also have an impact on the way the voters react to the political world. These developments constitute a prime focus of interest for this Research Professorship.

Methodologically speaking, the above problems require multilevel approaches which link - whenever possible across the time dimensions - the macro level of political institutions with the meso level of collective intermediary actors and the micro level of individual orientations. Such multilevel analyses, but also single-level studies (particularly of the macro kind), develop their full potential only through systematic comparison, especially of the cross-national nature. This approach is the core strategy in the work of this Research Professorship.

  Since October 2000  ¬ Prof. Dr. Max Kaase is Vice President and Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, International University Bremen.  

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