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Societal values and their influence on the effectiveness of democracy assistance

Africa
Democracy
Democratisation
International Relations
Julia Leininger
German Development Institute
Julia Leininger
German Development Institute
Julia Leininger
German Development Institute
Kai Striebinger
German Development Institute

Abstract

Unlike other foreign policies, democracy assistance explicitly supports a particular value-system in foreign countries. Scholars of democratization agree that it needs a change of political and societal values if democracy shall become “the only game in town”. This must include core democratic values such as political equality or political freedom and societal value orientations that guide social action and the relationship between members of a society. But so far, value orientations and attitudes as contextual factors were widely neglected in the study of democracy assistance. Only few scholars were interested in the core values that are promoted through democracy support such as political equality or political freedom (Finkel 2003; Freyburg 2010). But to what extent do societal values influence the effectiveness of democracy assistance? In line with previous research, we assume that values are part of the interaction between local and international actors in the process of democracy assistance (Wolff et al. 2012). Societal values influence the position of local and international actors in these interactions, the process of democracy assistance and its outcome. We hypothesize that the match of societal values is a necessary but not sufficient contextual condition for effective democracy assistance. Against this backdrop, this paper seeks to provide an overview of societal values and their operationalization. In addition, it will outline the way through which the instruments international actors use to promote democracy depend on these societal values. It gives first empirical insights from a case study on family law reform and the unconstitutional change of government in an African country.