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The State of Democratic Theory

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Description

What should we expect from democracy, and how likely is it that democracies will live up to those expectations? In The State of Democratic Theory, Ian Shapiro offers a critical assessment of contemporary answers to these questions, lays out his distinctive alternative, and explores its implications for policy and political action.

Some accounts of democracy's purposes focus on aggregating preferences; others deal with collective deliberation in search of the common good. Shapiro reveals the shortcomings of both, arguing instead that democracy should be geared toward minimizing domination throughout society. He contends that Joseph Schumpeter's classic defense of competitive democracy is a useful starting point for achieving this purpose, but that it stands in need of radical supplementation--both with respect to its operation in national political institutions and in its extension to other forms of collective association. Shapiro's unusually wide-ranging discussion also deals with the conditions that make democracy's survival more and less likely, with the challenges presented by ethnic differences and claims for group rights, and with the relations between democracy and the distribution of income and wealth.

Ranging over politics, philosophy, constitutional law, economics, sociology, and psychology, this book is written in Shapiro's characteristic lucid style--a style that engages practitioners within the field while also opening up the debate to newcomers.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 01, 2003 – In this comprehensive and intelligent survey of democratic theory, Shapiro argues that the goal of democracy should not be to achieve a"common good," but rather to manage the"power relations to minimize domination." In presenting his evidence, Shapiro analyzes the political theories of dozens of philosophers and academics, from the celebrated 18th-century thinkers Rousseau and Madison to the more modern theorists Schumpeter and Foucault. His perspective is essentially pragmatic. Whether evaluating hierarchical relations, the exercise of governmental power or the position of the vulnerable, his primary aim is to assess how various theoretical frameworks ignore, or address,"the actual operation of democratic politics." What is most important, he believes, is to consider"what we should expect of democracy, and how those expectations might best be realized in practice." Such a down-to-earth approach is refreshing; however, Shapiro's dense, jargon-filled prose makes this book more appropriate for academics and specialists than for general readers.
The State of Democratic Theory
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  • $20.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Events
  • Published: Jan 10, 2009
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Seller: Princeton University Press
  • Print Length: 200 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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