Conclusion: Rethinking the Value of Democracy
My book showed that there has been no consensus in the quantitative literature on the instrumental value of democracy. Some scholars claim there is a consensus, but they only do so by ignoring the huge amount of studies which rejects their own point of view. After undertaking a large-scale analysis of hundreds of articles published on the topic, this concluding chapter argues that the connections between democracy and expected outcomes are not as strong as they seem. This conclusion has implications for future research. First, we need to rethink the concept of democracy, as well as the measurements as used in statistical analyses; different solutions are proposed. Second, we need to rethink the boundaries within the discipline of political science, particularly between empirical studies of democracy on the one hand, and normative political theory on the other hand. Third, we need to rethink—and break down—the boundaries between disciplines. Results around the value of democracy have been dispersed over the disciplines of political science, comparative politics and IR, economics, sociology and development studies. Different disciplines focused on the same conventional questions in a strikingly similar way while providing different insights. Finally, we need to rethink the choice to focus on instrumental values in comparative research. Intrinsic and constructive values of democracy deserve our attentionas well, while it is also recommended to investigate whether democracy is working better with regard to other outcomes (e.g. health, education, socio-economic equality and access to clean water). This chapter gives ideas how to make (the study of) the value of democracy valuable again.
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