Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Robert Hislope




elitism, masses, democratization, mobilization, ideology


Over the past several decades there has been an influx of countries becoming democracies. Post-communist Eastern Europe, developing Africa, and Latin America are only three regions that have been working towards democratic governments, some being more successful than others. There are many theories that attempt to explain why some countries are able to successfully transition to a democracy while others fail. In my senior thesis, I focus on elitism versus the power of the masses. For most of transitology history, elites have been viewed as the prominent actor in democratization. However, the role of the masses has been focused on more and more as time passes. I examine the histories and democratization processes in South Africa, Serbia, and Haiti, to determine the influence mass mobilization and elites have in democratic transitions. Mass mobilization is my independent variable, the variable that I am studying to see its impact, or lack of, on democratization processes in various countries. While the two theories do divulge prominent ideologies, I find that consensual elites and social movements are both not necessary for a democratic transition, but the democracy will most likely succeed in the long run if they are present. Therefore universalism is more supported for the transition process, while in order to consolidate there are certain preconditions that a country must reach first before attempting to democratize.