The Limits of Liberal-Democracy Promotion

C. Hobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
170 Downloads (Pure)


One of the few unambiguously positive outcomes of the George W. Bush years is a greater interest in the practice of democracy promotion. However, the expansion of scholarship in this area has not been matched by an equal expansion in its scope. There continues to be an overwhelming tendency to focus exclusively on empirical case studies and policy prescriptions, usually informed by a set of unstated liberal assumptions. Nothing is necessarily wrong with this per se. The problem stems from the lack of attention directed toward the larger theoretical and conceptual frameworks that inform and shape these practices. Responding to this state of affairs, this article examines the way certain theoretical tendencies and commitments have helped give rise to many problematic aspects of liberal democracy promotion. It is necessary to challenge the restrictive framework that currently dominates. It is argued that to do so entails rethinking, extending, and pluralizing the way democracy itself is conceived.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-405
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2009


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