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The Taming of Democracy Assistance
Why Democracy Promotion Does Not Confront Dictators

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  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107069640

$ 113.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • Few government programs that aid democracy abroad today seek to foster regime change. Technical programs that do not confront dictators are more common than the aid to dissidents and political parties that once dominated the field. What explains this 'taming' of democracy assistance? This book offers the first analysis of that puzzle. In contrast to previous research on democracy aid, it focuses on the survival instincts of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that design and implement democracy assistance. To survive, Sarah Bush argues that NGOs seek out tamer types of aid, especially as they become more professional. Diverse evidence - including three decades of new project-level data, case studies of democracy assistance in Jordan and Tunisia, and primary documents gathered from NGO archives - supports the argument. This book provides new understanding of foreign influence and moral actors in world politics, with policy implications for democracy in the Middle East.

    • The first examination of the 'taming' of democracy assistance, showing the significance of donor interests and NGOs for how democracy assistance works on the ground
    • Features in-depth case studies of foreign assistance in Jordan and Tunisia, allowing readers to understand the dynamics of democracy promotion in the Middle East after the uprisings of 2011
    • One of the few examinations of democracy assistance that uses a mixed-methods empirical approach - the combination of qualitative description that draws on field work and archival research, and statistical analysis generates new insight into the topic
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    • Honourable mention, 2017 Best Book Award, Foreign Policy Section, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    "The Taming of Democracy Assistance is an impressive "whodunit" that is an original contribution to the study of democracy assistance and an important statement on the lifeworlds of global NGOs. When rounding up those who might have tamed democracy assistance, the usual suspects are donors, who have the financial power to tell NGOs what to do and not do, and authoritarian governments, who have the power to keep democracy-promoting NGOs in their place and the motivation to do so. Although their fingerprints are at the scene, according to Bush, these NGOs are responsible for their own domestication. Worried about their own survival, they played the game in ways that kept their programs open and the money flowing in. And the very professionalization of the sector introduced a more technocratic, means-oriented expert class that lost the big picture."
    Michael Barnett, George Washington University, Washington DC

    "An empirically rich study that raises important questions about how much international democracy aid actually challenges authoritarian regimes."
    Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC

    "Sarah Bush’s methodologically sophisticated and well-documented book shows that democracy promotion is challenging not just because of the strategic interests of donor states and the characteristics of recipient states but also because of the survival needs of NGOs, the actual implementers of many democracy promotion programs. Demands for quantifiable measures from donors and the need for access that can only be granted by recipient states create incentives for NGOs to develop ‘tame’ programs which do not directly challenge autocratic regimes."
    Stephen D. Krasner, Graham H. Stuart Professor of International Relations, Stanford University, California

    'The hallmark of a trailblazing book is its ability to provoke thought, ignite new areas of research, and generate stimulating questions. Bush’s Taming of Democracy Assistance will shape the NGO research agenda for years to come.' Maryam Z. Deloffre, H-Diplo

    'In The Taming of Democracy Assistance, Sarah Bush makes a novel contribution to this well-established field of donor-NGO research. Using a mix of statistical models and detailed case studies, Bush advances a scathing critique of the democracy promotion establishment by showing how the measurement revolution and the rising demand for evidence-based policies have distorted NGOs’ core operations.' Andrew Heiss and Judith Kelley, The Journal of Politics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107069640
    • length: 288 pages
    • dimensions: 238 x 160 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.56kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus. 9 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction and Argument:
    1. Introduction
    2. The argument: structure, agency, and democracy promotion
    3. Tame democracy assistance: what it is and why it matters
    Part II. Testing the Argument:
    4. Delegation and the allocation of democracy assistance
    5. Changes in American grant-making
    6. Creating the democracy establishment
    7. Jordan: aid in the shadow of geopolitics
    8. Tunisia: reform after revolution
    Part III. Conclusions:
    9. Should democracy promoters be set free?
    Part IV. Appendices and References: A. Descriptions of categories of democracy assistance
    B. List of interviewee affiliations
    C. Major organizations in the democracy establishment
    D. Data appendix.

  • Author

    Sarah Sunn Bush, Yale University, Connecticut
    Sarah Sunn Bush is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Temple University, Philadelphia and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Her research focuses on democracy promotion, non-state actors in world politics, and gender and human rights policy, and has been published in several journals, including International Organization and International Studies Quarterly. Dr Bush was the 2014 winner of the Deborah Gerner Grant for Professional Development.


    • Honourable mention, 2017 Best Book Award, Foreign Policy Section, American Political Science Association

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