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Chapter

Cover Comparative Politics

10. Democratic innovations  

Nicole Curato

This chapter introduces the theory and practice of democratic innovations, such as citizen-initiated referendums, participatory budgeting, and citizens’ assemblies. It characterizes what makes these approaches innovative and distinctly democratic by situating them in the traditions of direct, participatory, and deliberative democracy. The chapter critically examines the purpose and limits of democratic innovations, presents debates on how these approaches are being applied and institutionalized around the world, provides examples and case studies of democratic innovations from around the world, and concludes by putting forward provocative questions on what it means for citizens to meaningfully take part in democratic decision-making in contemporary times.

Chapter

Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

2. Defining Democracy  

This chapter discusses the definitions of democracy, which have evolved over time. Although the concept of democracy appears straightforward, this is not necessarily the case. The first approach to defining democracy was the minimalist approach, or those definitions of democracy that focus primarily on the competitiveness of elections. The second approach was the maximalist approach, which holds that democracy must be viewed as more than the presence of regularly held, competitive elections. In addition to repeated, competitive elections, supporters of a maximalist approach include a variety of other attributes in their definitions of democracy. Some of the criteria are procedural (the rule of law, participation, and accountability), while others are substantive (equality and political and civil liberties). Ultimately, clear and consistent frameworks for democracy can provide objective warning signs and early indicators of democratic backsliding. The chapter then explores the four prominent models of democracy: protective, pluralist, participatory, and deliberative.

Chapter

Cover Politics

4. Democracy  

This chapter examines key aspects of democratic theory. It first defines what democracy means and traces the historical evolution of the term, from the time of the ancient Greeks to the French and American revolutions up to the nineteenth-century, when democracy began to take on more popular connotations in theory and practice. The chapter goes on to discuss the debate between advocates of the protective theory and the participatory theory of democracy. It also considers alleged problems with democracy — relating to majoritarianism, its impact on economic efficiency, and its relationship with desired outcomes — before concluding with an analysis of the new directions democratic theory has taken in recent years, including associative, deliberative, cosmopolitan, and ecological versions of democracy.

Chapter

Cover The Politics of the Earth

12. Encountering the Anthropocene  

This chapter examines environmental discourses in light of recognition of humanity’s entry into the Anthropocene, an emerging geological epoch that dramatizes what is at stake in the politics of the Earth. The Anthropocene is the successor to the unusually benign and stable Holocene of the previous 12,000 years, during which human civilization evolved. The human institutions, practices, ideas, and discourses that still dominate the politics of the Earth all took shape under perceived Holocene conditions. The most important quality demanded of the configuration of environmental discourses is now a capacity to generate critical reflection on the trajectory of human societies in the context of an unstable Earth system. This will require meaningful deliberative and democratic engagement across discourses.

Book

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy
An Introduction to Political Philosophy provides and introduction to the subject, combining clarity and a conversational style with a thought-provoking account of the central questions of the discipline. The text explores the subject through a series of enduring and timeless questions, jumping centuries and millennia to explore the most influential answers and demonstrate the relevance of political philosophy for an understanding of contemporary issues. This new edition has been updated to include the on-going developments in multiculturalism and global justice, as well as in human rights and deliberative democracy.

Book

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy
An Introduction to Political Philosophy provides an introduction to the subject, combining clarity and a conversational style with a thought-provoking account of the central questions of the discipline. It explores the subject through a series of enduring and timeless questions, crossing centuries and millennia to consider the most influential answers and demonstrate the relevance of political philosophy for an understanding of contemporary issues. This new edition has been updated to include on-going developments in multiculturalism and global justice, as well as in human rights and deliberative democracy.

Chapter

Cover Comparative European Politics

6. Beyond Electoral Representation  

Direct and Deliberative Democracy

David M. Farrell and Luke Field

This chapter examines some of the main alternatives to representative methods of democratic decision-making practised in contemporary Europe. The chapter first focuses on referendums, providing an overview of their use across Europe’s democracies and examining how much scope is given to citizens to control when they are held and what they are about. The chapter then reviews the wider panoply of democratic innovations that, in combination, see democracies move beyond being merely ‘vote-centred’ representative processes. This includes the relatively recent emergence of deliberative forms of democracy, in which citizens are brought into the heart of debates on key policy issues through their involvement in ‘deliberative mini-publics’ such as citizens’ assemblies.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

4. Democracy and Political Obligation  

Robert Garner

This chapter examines the claim that democracy is the ideal form of political obligation. It first traces the historical evolution of the term ‘democracy’ before discussing the debate between advocates of the protective theory and the participatory theory of democracy, asking whether it is possible to reconcile elitism with democracy and whether participatory democracy is politically realistic. The chapter proceeds to explain why democracy is viewed as the major grounding for political obligation, with emphasis on the problem of majority rule and what to do with the minority consequences of majoritarianism. It documents the contemporary malaise experienced by democracy and seeks to explain its perceived weaknesses as a form of rule. Finally, the chapter describes the new directions that democratic theory has taken in recent years, focusing on four theories: associative democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, deliberative democracy, and ecological democracy.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

4. Democracy and Political Obligation  

Robert Garner

This chapter traces the historical evolution of the term ‘democracy’ before discussing the debate between advocates of the protective theory and the participatory theory of democracy, asking whether it is possible to reconcile elitism with democracy and whether participatory democracy is politically realistic. It then examines democracy’s claim to be the ideal grounding for political obligation with particular emphasis placed on the problem of majority rule and what to do with the minority consequences of majoritarianism. Various contemporary challenges facing democracy are then discussed. The final section describes the new directions that democratic theory has taken in recent years, focusing on four theories: associative democracy, cosmopolitan democracy, deliberative democracy, and ecological democracy.

Chapter

Cover An Introduction to Political Philosophy

3. Who Should Rule?  

This chapter considers the question of what sort of state and government we should have. A common assumption is that only a democracy is ever fully justifiable. Anything else—a tyranny, an aristocracy, an absolute monarchy—lacks justification. But what is a democracy? Is it really so attractive? The chapter explores some of the most fundamental problems in formulating democratic theory before looking at arguments for and against democracy itself. It first examines the tension between the idea of democracy as a system of ‘majority rule’, and the idea of democratic ‘consideration for individuals’. It then analyses Plato’s arguments against democracy, focusing on his use of the so-called craft analogy to defend his position, along with his concept of guardianship. It also discusses Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s notion of the general will and concludes with an overview of representative democracy.

Book

Cover Contemporary Political Philosophy
Contemporary Political Philosophy has been revised to include many of the most significant developments in Anglo-American political philosophy in the last eleven years, particularly the new debates on political liberalism, deliberative democracy, civic republicanism, nationalism, and cultural pluralism. The text now includes two new chapters on citizenship theory and multiculturalism, in addition to updated chapters on utilitarianism, liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, socialism, communitarianism, and feminism. The many thinkers discussed include G. A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, William Galston, Carol Gilligan, R. M. Hare, Catherine Mackinnon, David Miller, Philippe Van Parijs, Susan Okin, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, John Roemer, Michael Sandel, Charles Taylor, Michael Walzer, and Iris Young.

Chapter

Cover Political Thinkers

31. Habermas  

Kenneth Baynes

This chapter examines Jürgen Habermas's major contributions to social and political thought. Habermas is regarded as one of the most influential figures in contemporary political theory. In his later work Habermas has begun to expand the normative political implications of his work in social theory and philosophy, culminating in Between Facts and Norms. This chapter first provides an overview of Habermas's earlier work, especially his study on the transformation of the liberal or bourgeois public sphere, before discussing his theory of communicative action (or action based on mutually supposed validity claims). It then considers Habermas's attempt, in Between Facts and Norms, to develop an account of deliberative politics anchored on the idea of political legitimacy and concludes with an analysis of cosmopolitanism as well as his views on discourse theory, democracy, the system of rights, and ‘weak’ and ‘strong’ publics.