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Photo: “Demonstration against Morten Kjærum in Vienna“, by Ataraxis1492 licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Hue modified from the original

Lauth Hans-Joachim, Oliver Schlenkrich, and Lukas Lemm, “Different Types of Deficient Democracies: Reassessing the Relevance of Diminished Subtypes,” International Political Science Review, March 12, 2021,


Typologies are widely applied tools in democracy research. There are two prominent ways of constructing subtypes of democracies: whereas the classical approach adds traits successively to gain regular subtypes, the radial approach subtracts traits from the concept to obtain diminished subtypes. Conceptually, we argue that radial types have distinct advantages over the classical approach. Diminished subtypes can deal with complex concepts with multiple interrelated dimensions without a clear hierarchy and can account for the gradual nature of political phenomena. We derive three diminished subtypes of democracy: illiberal, inegalitarian and unaccountable democracies. The empirical analysis draws on a customized version of the new Varieties of Democracy dataset. Contrary to the dominating criticism of the radial delusion by the classical approach, an elaborate cluster analysis with a strong focus on validation and robustness checks can identify empirically the deductively proposed diminished subtypes of democracies which could not be demonstrated so far.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.