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Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times
Author: Nancy Bermeo

ISBN: 9780691089706
Format: Paperback
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 6 July 2003
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.8
Description:


For generations, influential thinkers--often citing the tragic polarization that took place during Germany's Great Depression--have suspected that people's loyalty to democratic institutions erodes under pressure and that citizens gravitate toward antidemocratic extremes in times of political and economic crisis. But do people really defect from democracy when times get tough? Do ordinary people play a leading role in the collapse of popular government?

Based on extensive research, this book overturns the common wisdom. It shows that the German experience was exceptional, that people's affinity for particular political positions are surprisingly stable, and that what is often labeled polarization is the result not of vote switching but of such factors as expansion of the franchise, elite defections, and the mobilization of new voters. Democratic collapses are caused less by changes in popular preferences than by the actions of political elites who polarize themselves and mistake the actions of a few for the preferences of the many. These conclusions are drawn from the study of twenty cases, including every democracy that collapsed in the after...

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