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S(t)imulation: A comparison of international democracy assistance objectives and non-elite perceptions of democracy in eastern Madagascar

Hinthorne, Lauren Leigh (2010) S(t)imulation: A comparison of international democracy assistance objectives and non-elite perceptions of democracy in eastern Madagascar. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis explores the nexus of democratic development, international democracy assistance and local political cultures in one eastern region of Madagascar. In so doing, it questions whether common targets of the democracy assistance industry (i.e. electoral process, freedom of expression, rule of law) merely encourage the simulation of Western democratic systems or actually stimulate democratic development that makes sense to local people. While there are no doubt many explanatory factors for the (in)effectiveness of democracy assistance policies, in this thesis I propose that the perceptions, beliefs, and expectations of ordinary citizens (i.e. political cultures) could help account for the dogged persistence of hybrid regimes. My intention in undertaking this research is not to discredit other variables pertinent to democratic development, but rather to narrowly investigate how ordinary citizens interpret “democracy” and whether these interpretations are compatible with those assumed by the global democracy assistance industry. I also offer a step-by-step account of the methodological innovations employed in this research. Empirical data on political culture was collected using a modified version of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT). The data analysis techniques used in this research were likewise visual, facilitating the translation of highly contextualised field data into thematic trends relevant to democracy assistance policy. The highly visual research process piloted here could be meaningfully applied to a wide range of research problems and contexts, including the emerging trend toward country-led democracy assessment procedures. The originality of this work lies in its exploration of a highly contested concept (political culture), using an innovative visual research method (the modified TAT) in a country not often researched by (particularly Anglophone) political scientists (Madagascar). This research is significant in that it proposes both a theoretical framework and original methodology for exploring how ordinary people perceive democracy in their countries, and relating these perceptions to specific policy goals.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: democracy, democracy assistance, Madagascar, visual research methods, VINE technique
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.557167
Depositing User: Ms Lauren Leigh Hinthorne
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2012 10:16
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:19
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1138

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