Sociology Index


Autocracy is the concentration of power and authority in the hands of one person. Usually, autocracy refers to a situation where state power is controlled by a monarch, religious leader or political dictator. The term 'autocracy' can also be applied to particular social institutions where one individual has dominant power and authority.

Double Take - A Reexamination of Democracy and Autocracy in Modern Polities - Kristian S. Gleditsch, Michael D. Ward, Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado. - The Polity data are widely used to explore the causes and consequences of democratic authority patterns. These data often have been used uncritically. The authors explore some of the theoretical and empirical characteristics of these data. They show how the analytical composition of the well-known democracy and autocracy scores is not upheld by an empirical analysis of the component measurements and demonstrate that democracy, as measured by the Polity indicators, is fundamentally a reflection of decisional constraints on the chief executive.

Autocracy, Democracy, and History with Appendix: An Abstract Model of Autocratic Versus Democratic Government - Working paper, Research brief - Mancur Olson
The line of thinking set out in this paper began in my student days with the reading of a quotation from a man in a backward village in Southern Italy who believed in absolute monarchy. This man argued that "monarchy is the best kind of government because the King is then owner of the country. Like the owner of a house of a house, when the wiring is wrong, he fixes it."

This reasoning jarred against my democratic convictions. I could not deny that the owner of a country would indeed have an incentive to make his property productive or the implication that his subjects would also gain from this. This essay attempts to identify and explain some commonplace historical differences between autocracies and democracies and to suggest why autocracies are the norm at some stages of historical development but not at others.

Democracy, Autocracy, and Intermediate Associations in Organizations: Flexibility or Unrestrained Change? - C. J. Calhoun, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 
Organizational participation has often been treated as a matter of securing the involvement of individuals in a more `democratic' structure. Organizational responsiveness has often been sought in increasing ease and rate of change. These parallel approaches are criticized in this paper as overreactions to a myth of autocratic organization.

Limited Autocracy
Jonathan Klick (Florida State University College of Law)
Abstract: All politicians, regardless of the nominal form of government within which they operate, face the trade-off between current period gains and tenure extension. That is, rulers can exploit their power for personal gain, but they risk being removed from their positions of power, either through a popular vote or a coup or revolution. If they temper their exploitation to remain in power, they sacrifice some of their current personal gain. Essentially all politicians are limited autocrats, where the limitations imposed on them differ according to the institutional structure under which they rule.

The Economics of Autocracy and Majority Rule 
MARTIN C. MCGUIRE, University of California, Irvine, Mancur L. Olson Jr, University of Maryland
ABSTRACT: Productive public good investment allocations, and group discriminatory redistributions are conflicting resource use options between which every government must choose irrespective of its political make up. This paper is the first to derive an incisive explanation of how governments combine political and economic calculation to balance these competing choices. The political logic of these economic decisions will lie on a spectrum between two polar extremes. At one extremes is an idealized, utopian, consensual democracy. At the other extreme is perfect autocracy ruled by a dictator who taxes and spends solely to satisfy his own selfish desires.