The disciplinary separation between comparative politics and international relations is regularly challenged but persists as a result of institutional inertia and hiring practices. This essay uses the issue of democratization in an attempt to go beyond rhetoric and to develop a framework that integrates the role of transnational activism into the analysis of domestic regime change. Comparative research on democratization confirms that underlying socioeconomic conditions affect the long-term sustainability of democratic reforms. The initiation of such reforms, as well as the process they take, can best be understood using an agency-based framework that links domestic and transnational forces. Outside interventions are a potent factor in challenging authoritarian practices, but they do not simply displace existing domestic practices and conditions. Although transnational activists and scholars often celebrate the empowering role of networking and mobilization, the long-term effects of such interventions are still poorly understood. Transnational ties may distract domestic activists from building effective coalitions at home or undermine their legitimacy overall. Transnational scholars and activists can learn from comparative research how different domestic groups use outside interventions to promote their interests at home.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/hans_peter_schmitz/19/