Barbara Wejnert



My research combines analysis of macro political and social changes (e.g., democratic movements, democracy, global market economy and theory of diffusion) with the effect of these major transformations on gender empowerment, societal well-being, and family. In particular, my research included study on the dissident movement and Pro-democratic Solidarity Movement which led to a broader set of empirical questions concerning the type and nature of processes that cause or modify socio-economic, political and cultural changes. Initially, my studies focused mainly on democratic transition in Poland and countries of the post-Soviet-bloc. Later this transformations were compared with political and economic changes that took place in select regions of African and the central and south Asian countries. The culmination were comparative, world–scale studies on the spread of democracy over the past two centuries.

Eureka - The Path of Democracy

Centuries of global democracy have been provoked by who lived next door

To provide examination of such extensive political and economic transformations, I developed a conceptual model of diffusion which characterizes diffusion as a mechanism facilitating macro-changes and wide-spread adoption of various innovations, including changes of political and economic systems. Diffusion is the outcome variable, the temporal process of spreading throughout a population at “risk” of adoption, e.g., adoption of democracy. I used this model to predict the rate of diffusion of democracy claiming that adoption of democracy by a country takes place when a country passes threshold of democracy adoption that is determined by the interaction of a) external factors that influence the value and risk of adopting (Svr), and b) internal development factors characteristic of a country (At). The product of this interaction determines whether an adoption of democracy will occur, and the overall temporal rate of adoptions in the population defines the outcome process of diffusion.

In view of the broad range of factors involved in the processes of global changes, I developed and published a comprehensive database. In my studies I concluded that two major sets of factors have dominated studies attempting to predict democratization: idiosyncratic causes referred to as socio-economic development, and forces at work globally, nonetheless both factors guide the processes of diffusion. Studies on democracy and market economic development were extended by analysis of the effects of democratization and global economic development on the quality of societal life, especially on empowerment and the status of women. In particular, studies on whether gender interacts with processes and/or results of democratization and of global development, and whether health factors (especially women’s health) are positive outcomes of such developments. Comparing Poland, and other Post-Soviet countries and developing countries around the world, my findings suggest severe declines in maternal health, and women’s quality of life at the time of major economic and/or political transitions, in all except for the most developed Western societies.

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