Arend Lijphart's 1969 article on consociational democracy was a compelling critique of prevailing theories of democratic stability and the launching pad for one of the most widely regarded research programs in contemporary comparative politics. However, Lijphart and others who adopted consociational approaches encountered severe logical, theoretical, and empirical criticisms of their work. The success of the program and its apparent imperviousness to many of these attacks has been remarkable. Lijphart's primary response was to abandon standard norms of social science in favor of an "impressionistic" approach that protected the attractiveness and wide applicability of the theory at the cost of precision and scholarly rigor. The overall trajectory of the consociationalist research program is explained with reference to a shift from early- to late-Lakatosian commitments--from insisting on corroboration for one's theories through repeated encounters with evidence to a late-Lakatosian stance that expects the political and rhetorical skills of scholars operating on behalf of their research program to be more significant than evidence or theoretical coherence.

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pp. 88-117
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