Many articles have been written on democratization. The focus often lies on the ‘pluralist’ notion, in which civil society is believed to be the most important stimulus for democratization. Much less, though increasing, attention is paid to the ‘critical’ notion, in which political society is considered to be the main driver of democratic reform. Recently however, scholars have come to understand that both notions, in which concepts are studied isolated, fall short in explaining democratic transition. Following that insight, researchers have begun to focus on the link between civil and political society within the democratization process. The relation between both concepts is the core of the ‘hybrid’ notion.
Although both civil and political society are considered important concepts in processes of democratization, it is argued in this working papers that all three mentioned notions are (too) simplistic. In reality democratization is more complex and many concepts are involved in the process. This article introduces a fourth notion, called the ‘complex’ notion, in which attention is given to more (explanatory) variables in relation to each other.
This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.