History
in Democratization through the looking-glass

This chapter shows how historians have contributed to the understanding of the processes of democratization and considers the ways in which different historians have approached the writing of history. The greatest contribution history can make to the understanding of democratization is to enable people to understand better how historians' questioning of the foundations of their own discipline can have implications for the understanding of the accepted 'facts'. The chapter also examines a few main historical models of democratization. It identifies three streams of historical debate corresponding to the different models of the way in which the foundations of democracy were laid. They are the myth of American exceptionalism, the Gladstonian view of British history, and the French Revolutionary tradition. The chapter further discusses W. E. Gladstone's apothegm that the US Constitution was 'the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man'.

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Editor: Peter Burnell

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