The Origins of Democracy in Agrarian Society: Land Inequality and Political Rights

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Abstract

Three models for the development of democracy in agrarian society during the period from 1973 to 1987 are examined empirically. Building on accounts of the development of democracy in ancient Athens and prior systematic studies, it is suggested that agricultural density is related to land inequality, which in turn leads to increased political rights in formerly tribal/hereditary polities. The second model centers on political violence as a consequence of this land inequality, which in turn leads to increased political rights after some violent political upheaval. The third model suggests urbanization and trade begin the process, and in turn economic development then leads to increased political rights. Support is found for the Athenian and economic development models, therefore emphasizing that political violence receives the least empirical confirmation. Most important for the origins of democracy in agrarian society is the robust influence of land inequality on political rights, discovered under a variety of analytic conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)454-477
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Volume36
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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