"We All Know A Democracy When We See One": (Neo)liberal orthodoxy in the 'democratisation' and 'good governance' project

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'Democratisation' and 'good governance' have come to constitute a fundamental aspect of Western interventions in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the former Eastern bloc, particularly in the post-Cold War period. Despite a vast literature on 'democratisation,' there has been a paucity of analysis which interrogates the great-power-defined agendas of democratisation. The naturalism of a particular vision or model of democracy is such that its promotion is rarely questioned or critically interrogated. Yet democracy is an essentially contested concept and universalistic claims around the Western (neo)liberal notion of democracy are being increasingly challenged. The article interrogates therefore the notion(s) of democracy articulated by the dominant social agents associated with the democratisation project, through specific reference to Africa. It contends that an orthodox notion can be identified. The orthodoxy constitutes a (neo)liberal, procedural notion of democracy, a claim substantiated through interrogation of the orthodoxy and the detailing of the extent to which the orthodox notion is informed by (neo)liberal theory and practice. The article concludes that 'democratisation' and 'governance' interventions are to be understood as a current manifestation of the liberal project. © 2008 Policy and Society Associates (APSS).




Ayers, A. J. (2008). “We All Know A Democracy When We See One”: (Neo)liberal orthodoxy in the ‘democratisation’ and ‘good governance’ project. Policy and Society, 27(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polsoc.2008.07.001

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