Jonas Wolff | 2015

Power in Democracy Promotion

in: Alternatives, 40: 3-4, 219-236.

The international promotion of democracy is about power, but the scholarship on this issue offers little systematic attention to the role and relevance that power might have in this context. This article critically discusses the literature that does explicitly deal with power in democracy promotion and proposes a multidimensional perspective as a way to improve our understanding of the international politics of democracy promotion. First, the typology of power proposed by Barnett and Duvall is applied to systematically conceptualize the power dimension of democracy promotion. Second, the article revisits the two main attempts to theoretically grasp the role and relevance of power in democracy promotion that draw on the Realist concept of relative power and the neo-Gramscian theory of hegemony, respectively. In both cases, the article argues, a multidimensional concept of power is analytically useful, as it enables an understanding of the complex nature of democracy promotion that goes beyond interstate relations and includes the attempt to change the very constitution of the recipient or target country from within.

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