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How to Study Democratic Backsliding (WP-23-15)

James Druckman

The twenty-first century has been one of democratic backsliding. This has stimulated wide-ranging scholarship on the extent and causes of the erosion of democracy. Yet, an overarching framework that identifies levels of analysis, specific actors, particular behaviors, and psychological processes is lacking. Druckman offers such a structure that envelops elites (e.g., elected officials, the judiciary), societal actors (e.g., social movements, interest groups), media (e.g., television, social media), and citizens. He discusses erosive threats stemming from each actor and the concomitant role of psychological biases. He concludes by discussing various lessons, and suggestions for how to study democratic backsliding.

James Druckman, Payson S. Wild Professor of Political Science and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

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