Historical Social Research

Nico Wilterdink: Increasing and Decreasing Inequalities of Power: A Processual View. A Response to Cas Wouters, and a Proposal for Clarification. [Abstract]

Responding to an essay by Cas Wouters in this journal, this article aims to clarify historical trends of increasing and decreasing power inequalities. It criticizes Wouters’s rejection of the notion of “functional de-democratisation,” his claim that “functional democratisation” was a dominant trend in the whole of human history, and his idea that this process results from long-term trends of differentiation and integration. This paper specifies when and under which conditions processes of functional democratisation did occur, and when and under which conditions developments in the direction of growing power inequality were dominant. Explanations for trends in these different directions are advanced. The paper’s final section argues that for the past 40 years processes of both functional democratisation and functional de-democratisation can be discerned, which take place on different integration levels and along different axes.

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