Alumni Fellow

Dr Peter Thiery

Alumni Fellows

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstr. 44
47059 Duisburg

Tel:  +49 (0)203 29861-132
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276


Dr. Peter Thiery joined Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research as a Fellow. He conducted his research in Research Unit 4 “Paradoxes and Perspectives of Democratisation” from September 2012 to Febuary 2013.

Research Project at the Centre

Peter Thiery’s research intends to provide basic insights into the main factors enabling or constraining democracy and democratisation in a pluri-national and pluri-cultural world. He, thus, for example tries to identify functional equivalents across the different political cultures in the multi-polar world. This includes a thorough revision of what democracy essentially means: Which set of institutions might hence be appropriate to reach this end? Which functional equivalents may be found across the different “political cultures” in a multi-polar world? How may such a democracy be achieved? Which implications this might have concerning the prospects for inter-/trans-/supra-national cooperation?

One basic assumption of his research project is that democracy did not emerge as a holistic institution but rather as a set of different “partial regimes”, which resulted from conflicts across multiple lines of social and political cleavages that took place at different moments in time. This implies (1) that democracy typically is the product of a much longer historical chain than often assumed; (2) that the different partial regimes of democracy as a complex institutional configuration rarely emerge all at once but at different times and for different reasons; (3) that there may be single institutions or functional equivalents of democratic institutions in non-Western cultures or even in so-called “limited access orders” potentially underappreciated by researchers; and (4) that the prospects for co-operation may not depend on the political regime as such but on some of its single features (such as “credible rule compliance” as a necessary condition for a functioning rule of law).

In order to approach the above-mentioned objectives, the proposed research takes into account the changing architecture of modern rule and tries to provide for a state of the art concerning democracy and democratisation. Robert Dahl (1989) already discussed the adventure of a “third transformation” of democracy emerging from changing parameters which affect its limits and possibilities, given that the democratic process does not exist as a disembodied entity detached from historical conditions and historically conditioned human beings. Accordingly, a considerable part of research is dedicated to discover in a broad historical perspective the mere essentials of democracy and democratisation – generally, and with the specific view to the 21st century.

Apart from summarising the limits and possibilities of democracy found by empirical research, one major topic will be the changes in the “scale of political life” derived from the transformation of the nation state and its diminishing capabilities as political order.

As the prevalent “traditional” concepts of democracy – most prominently and explicitly Dahl himself with his concept of “polyarchy” – conceive the nation state as principal locus of democracy, its transformation implies a new understanding of what the institutional arrangements of democracy can or should be.

Research Interests

  • Theory and Empirical Research on Democracy, the State, and the Rule of Law
  • Formal and Informal Institutions
  • Measuring Democracy, the Rule of Law and Governance
  • Latin America (Cono Sur, the Andes, Mexico)

Current Projects

  • Democracy in its “Third Transformation”. Exploring the Meaning, the Scope and the Limits of Democracy and Democratization in a Pluri-cultural World
  • Surfing the “Third Wave”. Parallel Games in New Democracies between Democratic Legitimacy and the Maintenance of “Limited Access Orders”


Since 04/2012 Institute of Political Science,
University of Heidelberg

10/2008-03/2012 Institute of Political Science
University of Würzburg

DFG Research Project "The Rule of Law and Informal Institutions. Eastern Europe and Latin America in Comparative Perspective"
Project Manager and Senior Researcher
07/2002-03/2010 Centre for Applied Policy Research (C.A.P.), University of Munich
Project "Transformation"
Senior Researcher
01/1999-06/2002 Institute of Politcal Science,
University of Heidelberg

Volkswagen Foundation Research Project "Defective Democracy"
Project Manager and Senior Researcher
1998 Institute of Politcal Science,
University of Mainz

Dissertation (Dr. phil.)
Subject of the thesis: "The State, Institutional Change, and Development in Chile (1973-1996)"
04/1995-12/1998 Institute of Politcal Science,
University of Mainz

Dep. of International Relations
Lecturer and Research Associate
01/1990-03/1995 Institute of Politcal Science,
University of Mainz

Dep. of Development Policies
Lecturer and Research Associate


Lauth, Hans-Joachim / Peter Thiery / Petra Guasti / Wolfgang Muno (2012): Rechtsstaat und informelle Institutionen. Wirkungsweise und Reformperspektiven in Lateinamerika und Osteuropa <The Rule of Law and Informal Institutions. Operating Modes and Reform Perspectives in Latin America and Eastern Europe>, Wiesbaden (i.E.)

Merkel, Wolfgang / Hans-Jürgen Puhle / Aurel Croissant / Claudia Eicher / Peter Thiery (2012): Defekte Demokratie, Bd. 1: Theorie, 2., überarbeitete Auflage <Defective Democracy, Vol. 1: Theory, 2nd revised edition> Wiesbaden (i.E.)

Croissant, Aurel / Peter Thiery (2010): Eroding Democracy, or the Intransigence of Defective Democracy? in:  Bertelsmann Foundation (ed.): Transformation Index 2010,  Gütersloh, 212-232

Thiery, Peter (2010): Autoritarismus und Demokratie in Lateinamerika <Authoritarianism and Democracy in Latin America> in: Holger  Albrecht / Rolf  Frankenberger (Hrsg.): Autoritarismus Reloaded. Neuere Ansätze und Erkenntnisse der Autokratieforschung, Baden-Baden, 295-312

Thiery, Peter / Jenniver Sehring / Wolfgang Muno (2009): Die Messung von Rechtsstaatlichkeit <Measuring the Rule of Law> in: Josef  Estermann (Hrsg.): Interdisziplinäre Rechtsforschung zwischen Rechtswirklichkeit, Rechtsanalyse und Rechtsgestaltung, Bern, 211-230

Thiery, Peter (2009): Moderne politikwissenschaftliche Theorie <“Modern“ Political Theory> in: Hans-Joachim Lauth / Christian  Wagner (Hrsg.): Politikwissenschaft. Eine Einführung, 6., grundlegend überarbeitete und veränderte Auflage, Paderborn, 194-232

Merkel, Wolfgang / Hans-Jürgen Puhle / Aurel Croissant / Peter Thiery (2006): Defekte Demokratie, Bd. 2: Regionalanalysen <Defective Democracy, vol. 2: Regional Analysis>, Wiesbaden

Brusis, Martin / Peter Thiery (2006): Comparing political governance: Southeastern Europe in a global perspective in: JSEEBSS Vol. 6 (1), March 2006, 125-146

Brusis, Martin / Peter Thiery (2005): Defects of Democracy and Options for Institutional Reforms in: Strategic Insight, Volume IV, Issue 12/2005

Thiery, Peter (2000): Transformation in Chile. Institutioneller Wandel, Entwicklung und Demokratie (1973-1996) <Transformation in Chile. Institutional Change, Development, and Democracy in Chile (1973-1996)>, Frankfurt am Main

Dombois, Rainer / Peter Imbusch / Hans-Joachim Lauth / Peter Thiery (eds.) (1997): Neoliberalismus und Arbeitsbeziehungen in Lateinamerika <Neoliberalism and Capital-Labor relations in Latin America>, Frankfurt

Thiery, Peter (1989): Der spanische Autonomiestaat. Die Veränderung der Zentrum-Peripherie-Beziehungen im postfrankistischen Spanien <The Spanish „State of the Autonomies“. The transformation of center-periphery-relations in post-Franco Spain>, Saarbrücken/Fort Lauderdale

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