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Democratic Political Development in Reference to Ethiopia Tarekegn Adebo University of Lund We are in the post-Cold War era and at the threshold of the twenty-first century, an era characterized, among other things, by a widespread democratization drive. Sub-Saharan Africa with its multiethnic societies and underdeveloped economy too has entered the race for democracy. Ethiopia, our country, is alsc said to have begun the process. The aim of this study is to contribute to the ongoing effort to conduct an in-depth investigation of the ongoing democratization movement in sub-Saharan Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. This study first concerns itself with the theoretical aspect. Theories, in simple terms, "are reasoned ideas" that explain and help us to grasp and conceptualize reality, facts, or events as they occur. Theories guide both the understanding and constructing of reality. This brief study, therefore, has primarily a theoretical purpose with further empirical use, for it tries to invigorate debate on and call attention to serious research needs on the matter. The study has developed in three parts. In the first part different political theories are reviewed as they relate to developing societies, and how they speak to democratization of these regions is summarized. In the second part the meaning and varying conception of democracy and its relation to some relevant issues are discussed; and then the concept of democratic political development and its factors are presented. In the third part, utilizing the factors proposed, a brief review of Ethiopian politics is made and the prospects for democratization are assessed.©Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 3, No. 2 (New Series) 1996, pp. 53-9653 54 Tarekegn Adebo Political Theories and Their Presentation of Democracy in the Developing Regions The second half of the 1950s and the early 1960s saw conscious efforts by social and political theorists in the West, mainly in the United States and the Soviet Union, to work out theoretical schemes that would enable political and socioeconomic studies on cross-cultural perspective. This period, which was marked by the cold war era's ideological antagonism, also coincided with the independence of many new nations in Africa. It is important to briefly review how major theories explained the progress of these new states, particularly their political and democratic development. In terms of general development, the process was seen by the liberal reformist thinkers as a stage of modernization. T. Parsons, reflecting the ideas of Weber, presented his theory in the terms of a tradition-modernity dichotomy (Parsons 1951: 4-23; Parsons and Shils 1951: 38). This view was criticized for several reasons, including presenting tradition and modernity as two incompatible concepts (Bendix 1967; Gusfield 1967; Mazrui 1968; Banuazizi 1978). Other theorists stressed the psychological element as the key motivational force to development (Lerner 1958; Pye 1962; Inkeles and Smith 1974). Still others saw the role institutions play as central (Riggs 1957; Almond 1956, 1960,1963; Apter 1965). Some investigated relationships between some aspects of modernization and democracy (Lipset 1959; Coleman 1960; Deutsch 1961). In terms of comparative political theory, the work done by structuralfunctionalists holds a place of classics (Easton 1953; Almond and Coleman 1960; Almond 1970; Apter and Andrain 1972). These writers were criticized by some reformists as well as by radical and socialist thinkers. The group that was termed the "dependency school," utilizing radical assumptions of international political economy, blamed the "developmentalists" for failing to expose the exploitative relationships between capitalism and the third world countries, for they saw these as the main cause of underdevelopment (See, e.g. Dobb 1947; Frank 1962; Rodney 1972; Amin 1974; Nabudere 1977; Leys 1975; Cardoso and Faleto 1979). However radical their arguments might have been, the "dependency" analysts did not suggest an alternative system. The latter came from the Democratic Political Development in Reference to Ethiopia 55 Marxist writers, mainly from the Soviet bloc, under the concept of socialist-orientation or non-capitalist path of development (Starushenko 1971; Brutents 1977; Ulyanovsky 1978; Palmberg 1975); and under the Maoist idea of the "new democratic revolution." There were also some attempts to present middle-path ideas such as African and Arab socialism. Much has also been produced at a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-6574
Print ISSN
0740-9133
Pages
pp. 53-96
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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