Conception of the Democracy Matrix

The following pages contain detailed information on the conceptual foundation of the democracy matrix.

1. The Democracy Matrix as a New Tool for Measuring Democracy

The democracy matrix is a new tool for measuring the quality of democracy. Democracy measurement is one of the main fields of investigation of comparative political science. By way of the gradual determination of regime quality, and hence by way of focussing on democratic performance, it provides, in the form of empirical data material, an important contribution to other component fields of political science: thus, for instance, the findings of regime or democracy measurement can serve as a basis for testing transformation research, in order to validate or falsify the theories developed in this area using empirical evidence. Within democracy research, key theses can be empirically verified with the help of democracy measurement: like, for example, the frequently postulated transition of established democracies toward post-democracy (Crouch 2005). Finally, besides its scientific value, regime or democracy measurement also has international political significance, since development policy and development aid, in particular, can be and are oriented by its findings in the context of conditionalities (Knack/Paxton 2011).

The development of a measurement concept is generally divided into three phases:

  1. Conceptualisation: The focus of this phase is the elaboration of a democracy definition that is appropriate to the investigation and that is characterised by its discriminatory power and its economy. In addition, a differentiated and stringent conceptual tree must be produced, which serves as point of departure for the next steps in the work process.  It is important to produce a logical vertical ordering of the different components according to their degree of abstraction: an ordering that prevents overlaps and redundancies (Munck/Verkuilen 2002).
  2. Operationalisation: The next step is the measurement of the concept tree that has been developed by way of the attribution of indicators for empirical measurement to the individual components and subcomponents. This occurs using the Varieties-of-Democracy-Database, which offers numerous variables that can provide a valid depiction of the individual components of the concept tree.
  3. Aggregation: The subsequent step in the work process is elaborating the aggregation, i.e. a calculation serving to provide a theoretically well-founded bundling of the values that have been measured by the indicators. Two aspects are important here: the choice of the level of aggregation and the choice of the aggregation rule (Munck/Verkuilen 2002). The democracy matrix allows for different levels of aggregation. Besides an overall value, it is also possible to determine the democratic quality of an individual matrix field, of an institution and of a dimension. The aggregation rules are theoretically grounded: whereas addition makes possible compensation, multiplication in the sense of a necessary condition does not allow for this (Munck/Verkuilen 2002). Furthermore, the partial functions and core functions within a field have to to be subjected to weighing.

On the following pages, the conception will now be depicted: thus, the democracy definition underlying the democracy matrix will be presented; the interplay of the dimensions of democracy, in the sense of complementary and conflicting relations, will be expounded; and the three measurement levels and the regime typology will be described. Information on the concept tree and its operationalisation, on the other hand, is to be found here; the aggregation is explained here.

2. References

Crouch, Colin. 2005. Post-Democracy. Cambridge.

Munck, Gerardo I. and Jay Verkuilen. 2002. Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy. Evaluating Alternative Indices. In: Comparative Political Studies 35, pp. 5-34.

Knack, Stephen and Pamela Paxton. 2011. Individual and country-level factors affecting support for foreign aid. In: International Political Science Review 33, pp. 171–192.