Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Shoup, Brian D.

Committee Member

Shaffer, Stephen D.

Committee Member

Chamberlain, James A.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Political Science and Public Administration


What constitutes a stable democracy has consistently changed over time, with varying thresholds of democratic achievement being utilized. The definitions of a liberal democracy have remained rather broad. This allows for states to be deemed democratic rather easily through weak characteristics. However, while some states clearly begin to exhibit illiberal democratic policies, therefore missing the democratic threshold, they are able to maintain stability. What the precise causal factors to democratic backslide are, have yet to be fully realized. Academics pose a multitude of characteristics contributing to backslide. This thesis seeks to examine two of those factors: ethnic heterogeneity and state “newness.” New approaches to measuring democracy and fostering democratic development are needed, however, they may also prove to be unsuccessful in analyzing democratic transitions. Not all states are alike, therefore what works for one state may not work for another, be the policies of the state liberal or illiberal.



democratic backslide||Papua New Guinea||democratic conceptualization||democracy||illiberal state