Susan Stokes, Director of the Chicago Center on Democracy, has been selected as one of the next Carnegie Fellows, an award administered by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. This $200,000 award will allow Stokes to develop a book, tentatively titled How Would-Be Autocrats Attack Democratic Culture—And How to Rebuild It.
The phenomenon of “democratic erosion” has recently attracted much scholarly attention. Researchers examine attacks on democratic institutions and democratic norms, but have paid insufficient attention to the connection between the two – the ways in which the violation of norms is tied to a larger strategy of undermining democratic culture, which in turn aids in the undermining of democratic institutions. Stokes’s book will trace attacks on democratic culture in the United States in recent decades, culminating in the onslaught in the Trump administration. It will compare this experience to those of other countries that have experienced democratic erosion, and to others that have not.
Stokes will build upon current research that she and collaborators at the Chicago Center on Democracy are conducting that uses text-as-data analysis of political speeches, both by would-be autocrats and by other political leaders from more than a dozen countries. This and other evidence will allow her to address questions such as: how widespread are attacks on democratic culture, and do they precede institutional erosion? Why do would-be autocrats succeed in some settings but fail in others? What strategies of resistance have been most successful?
For more information about Stokes and this award, see this UChicago News story.