Accounting for Change in Diverse Societies

Democracy and the Accommodation of Diversity: Advancing Pluralism Through Shared Rule, Self-Rule and Limited Rule

Publication Date: November 2018

Most scholars agree that successful management of diverse societies requires democratic practices such as multi-party elections and effective protections for civil rights and liberties. This is because these practices provide a space for the articulation, representation and accommodation of divergent interests through peaceful means. However, democracy can also be extremely fragile in deeply divided societies due to those very divisions that democracy is meant to address. Countries around the world have sought to strike balance through different approaches to democracy, be it through power-sharing between groups, decentralizing power to more local forms of government, or simply curtailing the power of the government by empowering other institutions, such as courts. All of these options present their own opportunities and challenges, but underlying all of them is a need to account for diversity in the very foundations of democratic practice.

Rotimi Suberu

Rotimi Suberu teaches politics and international relations at Bennington College. His main research interests are Nigerian government and politics, the management of ethnic and religious conflicts, federalism and democratization. Suberu’s publications include Federalism and Ethnic in Conflict in Nigeria, numerous book chapters, and several articles in journals such as African Affairs, Journal of Modern African Studies, and Journal of Democracy. Suberu has served as a consultant to the Nigerian government, the World Bank, the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the Forum of Federations.