American Political Science Review

Research Article

Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy1

Seymour Martin Lipseta1

a1 University of California, Berkeley

The conditions associated with the existence and stability of democratic society have been a leading concern of political philosophy. In this paper the problem is attacked from a sociological and behavioral standpoint, by presenting a number of hypotheses concerning some social requisites for democracy, and by discussing some of the data available to test these hypotheses. In its concern with conditions—values, social institutions, historical events—external to the political system itself which sustain different general types of political systems, the paper moves outside the generally recognized province of political sociology. This growing field has dealt largely with the internal analysis of organizations with political goals, or with the determinants of action within various political institutions, such as parties, government agencies, or the electoral process. It has in the main left to the political philosopher the larger concern with the relations of the total political system to society as a whole.


1 This paper was written as one aspect of a comparative analysis of political behavior in western democracies which is supported by grants from the Behavioral Sciences Division of the Ford Foundation and the Committee on Comparative Politics of the Social Science Research Council. Assistance from Robert Alford and Amitai Etzioni is gratefully acknowledged. It was originally presented at the September 1958 meetings of the American Political Science Association in St. Louis, Missouri.