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Democracy in Small StatesPersisting Against All Odds$
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Jack Corbett and Wouter Veenendaal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198796718

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198796718.001.0001

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Democratization and Cultural Diversity

Democratization and Cultural Diversity

(p.46) 3 Democratization and Cultural Diversity
Democracy in Small States

Jack Corbett

Wouter Veenendaal

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 interrogates the argument that cultural homogeneity is a prerequisite for democratic persistence. The thesis here is that the absence of diverse interests and agreement around cultural norms produces a unified citizenry. This is supported by the view that democracy is harder to sustain in ethnically and religiously diverse societies. The problem is that many small states are ethnically, socially, and linguistically divided and stubbornly democratic. They also tend to operate majoritarian rather than consensual or consociational political institutions. Indeed, in some cases, such as the Melanesian region of the Pacific, it has been argued that hyper-fragmentation actually aides consolidation by ensuring that no group can come to dominate the apparatus of the state. Conversely, many homogenous small states have dominant cultural codes that, when combined with the personalization of politics, stifle pluralism and dissent. So, homogeneity is not a perquisite for democracy any more than economic growth is.

Keywords:   democratization, divided societies, consociationalism, personalization, small states, power-sharing, political institutions

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