Major social and economic

How does inequality help us understand democratization?

The relationship between inequality and democracy has long been a subject of scrutiny for researchers. Inequality is clearly a critical and persistent issue that arouses severe resentment among the people and it always gives birth to major social and economic turmoil. Income is never distributed equally and thus inequality prevails among all the communities and in almost all the countries.

Champernowne argued that neither extreme poverty nor extreme affluence is a necessary pre-condition of the inequality issue. Neither of these alone adequately describes economic inequality as well. Economic inequality is the contrasts between the economic conditions of different persons or various groups (2). Kelly argued that inequality is social differentiation accompanied by differential moral evaluation. According to him, it is clear that inequality is present when socially differentiated groups are subject to cultural evaluations of moral worthiness (473).

Inequality helps us understand the need and relevance of democracy and thus to understand democratization. Many researchers have questioned whether more democracy is a cause of more equality or more equality is a cause of more democracy. Evidences and theories show that inequality has negative influences on a democracy and thus inequality helps us understand the need for democratization.

Democracy can remain powerful only when there is social stability and people are free from intense conflict. Inequality has always been a key to social anarchy and social conflicts. According to Muller, income inequality has negative impacts on a country's level of democracy and it is grounded in the theoretical preposition that extreme inequality generates intense and irreconcilable conflicts that are in turn incompatible with stable democracy (990). Muller concluded with his empirical findings that higher levels of inequality were a reason to decline the levels of democracy during the period of 1965 to 1980 (991).

Midlarsky argued that in the cross national literatures, economic equality, democratization and economic development are positively related. According to him, the evidences have proved that political participation and democratization are greater at higher levels of economic development (110). As long as there is high level of equality in a community, the political involvement and democratization will gradually grow and then to achieve economic development as well. If there is higher level of inequality, in contrast, the economic development will be comparatively lower. Inequality thus helps people understand the need and relevance of democratization.

Bollen and Jackman have opposed the empirical conclusion of Muller. They have concerned three major substantive arguments; 1) Muller's discussion of how changes in the class affect democratization didn't inform his empirical analysis, 2) Muller's discussion of how inequality influences democracy conflates with equality and equity and 3) Muller's argument that higher inequality generated declines in democracy from 1965 to 1980 neglected the fact that many of those declines were caused by restorations of democracy (983).

Increased levels of democratic freedom among the citizens lead to a decrease in the income inequality. And similarly, increased income inequality inhibits democratic development (Burns, 3). This research paper concludes that inequality can help us understand democratization because, when inequality prevails in the country, it will adversely affect the political involvement and economic development. It is because, an increase in the economic development leads to an increase in democratic freedom and that increased democratic freedom facilitates economic development (Burns, 3).

How can we measure corruption?

Corruption has become one of the major challenges of modern politics and economics and it has recently emerged as a global issue. It becomes more severe issue in times of economic crises putting pressure on people to recover losses of their jobs or loss of assets due to market instabilities. Apart from the economic loss of millions of dollars per annum, bribery negatively impacts the political, social and economic stability.

According to Heidenheimer and Johnston, corruption means that a civil servant abuses his authority in order to obtain an extra income from the public (25). According to Harris, corruption occurs when a person seeks personal gains by taking unfair and hidden advantage of someone else's position, status and condition (14). A long time efforts in the field of anti-corruption has brought attention of many researchers that the clear measurement of corruption is imperative so as to achieve progress towards greater integrity, transparency and accountability in its governance (Sampford, 1).

According to Sampford, measuring corruption is highly important because, it undermines the fairness, social and economic stability and efficiency and thus these fail to provide sustainable development to the members (1). Bribery is extremely severe challenge because its main consequence is that public money and resources will be moved to private pockets.

Sampford argued that identifying the levels of corruption are the initial steps to be taken in measuring corruption. There are grand and petty and active and passive corruptions and all these must be identified so that levels of severity can be realized (10- 11). In measuring corruption, Sampford suggested second step as to assess the nature and extent of the corruption. It involves both quantitative and qualitative assessment of types of corruptions occurred in a particular country or region (14).

Corruption is a covert activity and by its nature it is a difficult task to obtain its information. Corruption itself provides a motive to all those who have actively participated in the activity to falsify and distort any information they have. In order to obtain accurate information, it is important to put efforts to obtain from as many sources as possible and to ensure diversity in the sources and methods to be used (Sampford, 16). Information can be collected either from the early available sources or from effective surveys. While measuring corruption, it will be significant to assess the related legal and governmental provisions and practices.

Corruption can be measured through a number of alternative methods as follows:

  • Assessing the personal impressions and anecdotes from press stories
  • From direct observation of the people involved in the corruption
  • A systematic analysis of press cuttings and quoting also can helps assess the extent of the corruptive actions
  • Collecting official statistics of the corruption will be another effective method.
  • Interviewing people related and conducting survey will be another effective method.

Any of these methods or all of these can help measure the extent of corruption. These methods are good examples that are usually carried out by anti-corruption agencies and authorities. But, all these steps and measures can give a limited levels of information because, corruption gives motive to those who involved in it to falsify the information. Measuring corruption is extremely a difficult situation because direct interviewing or surveying will not be effective unless these are diligently coordinated and carefully prepared.

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