If the relevance of research in ….political science is understood as how it may improve human well-being and/or political legitimacy, research has to a large extent been focusing on the least important part of the political system, namely, how ‘access to power’ is organized (i.e. electoral and representative democracy and processes of democratization).
This focus on elections, democratization processes and party systems ignores what we consider to be the more important part of the state machinery for increasing human well-being, namely, how power is exercised or, in other words, the quality of how the state manages to govern society
(Bo Rothstein 2011).
In the autumn of 1990, I made a fateful trip across the North Sea to take up a short-term assignment in Copenhagen with the World Health Organisation to help its Head of Public Health map out strategic options for what were then regarded as “the newly independent states” of central and eastern Europe. The difficulties these countries faced in their “transition” to a “better” state were soon reflected in the literature of “transitology”, “democratization” and of “capacity development”.
One of the many fields into which my new line of work took me was that of “corruption” – which the academics made typically complex by designating it, variously, “particularism”, clientilism or “patrimonialism”. Bo Rothstein is one of the best analysts in the field and explains in the linked article that the very word wasn’t acceptable until the early 1990s – after which it became essentially a stick with which to beat nations judged to be inferior.
To this day, the European Union and Commission is unable to accept that the hundreds of billions of euros it makes available in its Structural Programmes to the newer member states is the prime cause of the systemic corruption which intermittently bring forth street protests in places such as Bucharest and Sofia…and which were analysed in painstaking detail in "Europe's Burden - promoting good governance across. borders" Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (2020)