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Dynamics of Constitutionalism Between Democracy and Authoritarianism as a Complex Adaptive System

McGrath, Erin C. (2015) Dynamics of Constitutionalism Between Democracy and Authoritarianism as a Complex Adaptive System. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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International democratization of authoritarian states has created a complex political dynamic pitting the goal of democratic diffusion against the objective of maintaining dictatorial power. By enacting legal reforms while episodically upholding rights or freedoms, amid repression, semi-authoritarian regimes generate diverse political grievances for obtaining constitutional rights and observations of those rights. Semi-authoritarian regimes have developed new tactics of manipulation of information exchange to address these grievances. This dissertation argues that to model semi-authoritarian constitutionalism, scholars must tackle complex multi-level interactions of aggrieved sub-national and state actors under influences of democratization. This dissertation develops a theory, and testable hypotheses, of semi-authoritarian resilience modeled as a complex adaptive system of systems (CASoS). This approach emphasizes concepts such as initial conditions, system structure, information exchange, and emergent phenomena.

Using the logic of abduction, through iteration between theory and empirical evidence, a parsimonious explanation is inferred with policy implications for reexamining how democracy is fostered across borders on multiple levels. A multi-level, multi-dimensional representation of interactions across the systems demonstrates a non-monotonic relationship between mobilization, grievance, and repression over time in which a convergence of preferences for more immediate, partial democratic reforms lowers mobilization under semi-authoritarianism, but incentivizes some groups to mobilize outside the existing constitutional system. This dissertation’s pragmatic, multi-method research design explores implications of the developed model over time in the Ottoman Empire and Republic of Turkey, from 1876 to present, and also spatially in contemporary Turkey, Iraq, and Syria.

Using Qualitative Comparative Analysis, a theory of a constitutional semi-authoritarian dynamic of cycles through phases of repression, reform, and rights over time is developed as an emergent phenomenon of the CASoS. Citizens’ discourse over constitutional reform in public communication processes in Turkey is analyzed using Structural Topic Modeling to understand stealth authoritarian resilience through information exchange and control. Finally, the evolution of Kurdish groups making constitutional claims for self-determination and their cooperation across borders in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, under various influences of democratization, is analyzed as an inter-organizational network, demonstrating the adaptive mechanisms that can deepen sub-national grievances, prolonging conflict, but enhancing the resilience of constitutional semi-authoritarianism.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
McGrath, Erin C.erincolleenmcgrath@gmail.com0000-0002-9169-9499
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorComfort, Louise K.lkc@pitt.eduLKC
Committee MemberNelson, Paul J.pjnelson@pitt.eduPJNELSON
Committee MemberKökten-Finkel, Mü
Committee MemberKapucu,
Date: 30 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 August 2015
Approval Date: 30 September 2015
Submission Date: 24 August 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 302
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: constitutionalism, semi-authoritarianism, Turkey, complex systems, democratization, stealth authoritarianism, Kurds, autonomy, emergent phenomena
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2015 15:26
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2020 05:15


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