The Contagion of Democracy Through International Networks – Social Networks – article

The Contagion of Democracy Through International Networks

Skyler J. Cranmer, Bruce A. Desmarais, Benjamin W. Campbell | Social Networks


Work on democratization typically considers the diffusion of democracy through interstate partnerships. However, such partnerships constitute complex networks that scholars have yet to fully explore as vectors for the spread of democracy. We develop a network theory of democratization which characterizes these networks as epistemic communities that influence elites’ attitudes towards favorable regime types. Our theory predicts, and our empirical strategy confirms, that direct and indirect ties in the alliance network are vectors for democratization. In contrast to conventional wisdom, we find that direct influence is only transmitted through the defensive alliance network and find evidence of higher-order effects.


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