1st Edition

Political Participation and Democratic Capability in Authoritarian States

By Lien Pham, Ance Kaleja Copyright 2021
    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book provides an innovative theoretical and empirical exploration of the political participation and democratic capability of people living in authoritarian states. Merging perspectives from sociology and political science, the book demonstrates that despite autocratic restrictions on opposition, there is often still leeway for people to express themselves as political agents and to develop democratic capability.

    The first two chapters problematise political participation and develop an interdisciplinary three-domain framework that allows for critical engagement with and appreciation of the contexts and varied ways in which participatory activities occur. This framework is applied to analyse six country case studies: Singapore, Jordan, Belarus, Cuba, Nigeria, and Vietnam. Drawing on a range of data sources and different analytical entry points, the book investigates the substantive opportunities people have in exercising political agency and the implications for democratic capability. The book concludes by summarising the emergent themes and examining the potential of applying this method of inquiry in other political contexts. Encompassing both governmental and societal practices, the book offers insights into state-society relations and their role in constructing political values and goals for participation, which people negotiate and mediate to inform their choices, modes, and forms of civic engagement. These insights present a broad approach towards the study of participation, with relevance for understanding political participation in various societies under non-democratic and democratic rule alike.

    This book will be useful for researchers and students interested in political dynamics and intersections with economic, cultural, and social aspects of development. It will also be beneficial for practitioners interested in participatory actions and social change.

    Part I Theorising Political Participation 

    1. Understanding Political Participation in Diverse Societies 

    2. Three-Domains Political Participation Framework 

    Part II Institutionalised Political Identities and Culture 

    3. Expanding Opportunities and Infusing Values through Singapore’s Anti-Welfare System 

    4. Examining the Rise and Effects of Tribalism in Jordan 

    5. Conditionality of Participatory Agency in Belarus 

    Part III Participation Practices and the ‘Political’ Turn 

    6. Dialogues Between Culture and Politics: A case study of Cuban Revolutionary films 

    7. Political Education and Political Participation: A case study of Nigeria’s voter education campaign in the 2019 general election 

    8. Protests Through Print and Social Media: A case study of citizens’ responses to Vietnam’s Special Administrative-Economic Zone Bill 

    Part IV Conclusions 

    9. Political Participation, Agency, and Democratic Capability



    Lien Pham, PhD, is a senior lecturer at the Graduate Research School, University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Her research interests and publications are in education and development, sociology of participation, policy, and social justice. She also provides consultancy for cross-sector research and evaluation for government agencies in Australia, non-governmental and multilateral organisations.

    Ance Kaleja, PhD, is an independent researcher with a doctorate in political science from Heidelberg University in Germany. Her research interests include human rights, development, political regimes, and social justice.