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Two Views of Corruption and Democracy


  • Mozaffar Qizilbash


The pessimistic view of corruption and democracy sees democracy as either corrupt or unlikely to deter corruption. This view can be traced to the writings of Plato and Aristotle. The modern neoclassical and public choice literatures advance a modern version of the pessimistic view. They suggest that democracy is not likely, in itself, to deter corruption. Shleifer and Vishny go further and suggest that the egalitarian tendencies in democracies produce conditions conducive to corruption. Sen's work, in contrast, supports the optimistic view that democracy can act as a powerful corruption deterrent. Sen takes a broader view of democracy, relaxes the self-interest assumption, allows for the influence of democracy on value formation and stresses the importance of democratic practice. However, a constitutive relationship also holds between corruption and democracy because certain forms of corruption are undemocratic in their very nature. This also involves an optimistic view since, on this view, democratization and corruption-deterrence go hand in hand.

Suggested Citation

  • Mozaffar Qizilbash, 2008. "Two Views of Corruption and Democracy," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 275-291.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:20:y:2008:i:2:p:275-291 DOI: 10.1080/09538250701819727

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    Cited by:

    1. Nabamita Dutta & Deepraj Mukherjee, 2016. "Do Literacy And A Mature Democratic Regime Cure Corruption?," Journal of Economic Development, Chung-Ang Unviersity, Department of Economics, vol. 41(2), pages 1-26, June.

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