News and Notes

Issue Date October 1993
Volume 4
Issue 4
Page Numbers 139-40
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ASA Convention Focuses on Transitions to Democracy

The central theme of the 88th annual convention of the American Sociological Association (ASA), held 13-17 August 1993 in Miami Beach, Florida, was “Transition to Democracy.” More than 20 special panels were devoted to issues related to the process and problems of democratization in all parts of the globe.

The highlight of the meeting consisted of two plenary sessions presided over by Seymour Martin Lipset of George Mason University, who was completing his term as president of the ASA and chair of its program committee. The first brought together Japanese sociologist Joji Watanuki, French sociologist Michel Crozier, and U.S. political scientist Samuel P. Huntington for a discussion of “The Ungovernability of Democracy.” These three scholars, coauthors of a controversial study of the crisis of democracy written under the auspices of the Trilateral Commission in the 1970s, examined the changes that had occurred in the leading industialized nations during the intervening years.

A second plenary session dealing with “Democratic Transformations” featured presentations by former Polish prime minister Jan Krzysztof Bielecki and Argentine sociologist Torcuato Di Tella, as well as comments by CNN political analyst William Schneider.

In his Presidential Address, entitled “The Social Requisites of Democracy Revisited,” Professor Lipset reviewed what social scientists have learned in over 30 years of comparative study of democracy. An expanded version of his oral presentation, which will be published in the American Sociological Review in February 1994, covers a wide range of issues, including the economic bases of democracy, political culture, religion, legitimacy, electoral systems, civil society, and political parties.

Travel support for overseas scholars to come to the convention was provided by the North-South Center of the University of Miami, [End Page 139] the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University, the ASA Presidential Fund, and the Soros Foundation. As a result, the meeting was attended by an unusually large number of participants from developing and postcommunist countries.

Essays on Democracy Published in Hungarian

In March 1993, the Hungarian magazine Beszléő (The Speaker) began publishing a special quarterly supplement of articles translated from the Journal of Democracy. The supplement is intended to provide Hungarian readers with broader coverage of the theory and practice of democratic government worldwide.

Beszléő, which was founded in 1981, was the foremost samizdat voice of democratic opposition to the Hungarian communist regime. After the democratic transition, the magazine became an aboveground weekly in 1990, and its editors and contributors became the core of the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats, which emerged from Hungary’s first free elections as the country’s largest opposition party. Current editor-in-chief Ferenc Ksőzeg and two other editors represent the Free Democrats in the Hungarian Parliament.

For further information regarding Beszléő and its supplement on democracy, contact Ferenc Kőszeg, 1084 Budapest, Deri Miksa u. 10., Hungary; or phone 36-1-113-7574; or fax 36-1-134-3504.

Revisiting Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy

In September 1993, the Johns Hopkins University Press published its second Journal of Democracy book, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy Revisited. (An anthology composed of 29 essays from the Journal was published in March 1993 under the title The Global Resurgence of Democracy.)

The new volume is drawn largely from the July 1992 special issue of the Journal, which in turn was based upon an April 1992 conference commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Joseph Schumpeter’s classic work Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. Essays on the relationship between democracy and alternative economic systems were contributed by distinguished scholars from around the world, including Peter Berger, Robert A. Dahl, Francis Fukuyama, Adam Przeworski, Jagdish Bhagwati, Francisco Weffort, G.M. Tamás, and Ralph Miliband. The book begins with an introduction by coeditors Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner and features a concluding essay by Seymour Martin Lipset. The project that culminated with the publication of this volume was funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

To order a copy, write: Johns Hopkins University Press, Hampden Station, Baltimore, MD 21211; or call 1-800-537-5487. The book is priced at $38.50 in hardcover and $12.95 in paperback. Please add $3.00 for postage. [End Page 140]


Copyright © 1993 National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University Press