Theories of Democracy: A Reader

ISBN 13: 9780847697243

Theories of Democracy: A Reader

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9780847697243: Theories of Democracy: A Reader
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Theories of Democracy builds on Robert Dahl's observation that there is no single theory of democracy; only theories. Beyond the broad commitment to rule by the majority, democracy involves a set of contentious debates concerning the proper function and scope of power, equality, freedom, justice, and interests. In this anthology, Ronald J. Terchek and Thomas C. Conte have brilliantly assembled the works of classical, modern, and contemporary commentators to illustrate the deep and diverse roots of the democratic ideal, as well as to provide materials for thinking about the way some contemporary theories build on different traditions of democratic theorizing. The arguments addressed in Theories of Democracy appear in the voices of authors who have championed influential theories concerning the opportunities and dangers associated with democratic politics. In this collection, Terchek and Conte have selected excerpts not as a means for promoting a particular way of looking at democracy, but rather they have wisely chosen works that will enable students to carry on an informed discourse on the meaning and purposes of democratic principles and practices. Theories of Democracy is a must for every student of democracy's past, present, and future.

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About the Author:

Ronald J. Terchek is professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland, College
Park, and the author of Republican Paradoxes and Liberal Anxieties: Retrieving Neglected
Fragments of Political Theory
and Gandhi: Struggling for Autonomy. Thomas C. Conte is an assistant professor at Gettysburg College.

Review:

Democracy is not an easy idea, the practice of democracy even more difficult. Theories of Democracy is an important, sophisticated, and smart collection of readings that recalls these simple truths in instructive and often provocative ways. Moving from the origins of democratic aspirations in early liberal and republican theories, through a helpful organization of contemporary theories of democracy, to critiques that seek to extend democracy's reach, Terchek and Conte have made clear that the evolution of democracy is an ongoing project. Concise introductions to each set of readings alert the reader to the choices that we confront in trying to match our democratic hopes to political possibilities. Theories of Democracy demonstrates that democratic values surface in a wide and diverse set of political writings. It also encourages the reader to reflect upon their own position in these debates. This makes the work useful for teaching both undergraduate and graduate students. Democracy is hard work that begins with an appreciation of its complexity. That is a lesson not only for students but for all friends of democracy. (Alfonso J. Damico)

Democracy is a global catchword today--but its meaning is contested and ambivalent. This volume provides a lucid overview of major theories of democracy, including 'protective,' 'pluralist,' and 'participatory' versions, together with critical evaluations from inside and outside 'the West.' A helpful and much needed text. (Dallmayr, Fred)

Terchek and Conte have put together an excellent work, touching all the bases and then some. Their editorial work and commentary are superb. They have established a standard not just for their topic, but for anthologies in general. (Frank B. Feigert)

An ideal collection for courses on democratic theory. Terchek and Conte combine the expected selections--Rousseau, Machiavelli, Schumpeter--with an innovative list of critiques, from a variety of contemporary perspectives. Inclusions of Gandhi and other non-Western theorists is especially unusual and welcome. (Klosko, George)

Ronald Terchek and Thomas Conte's Theories of Democracy is a thoughtfully selected compilation of important statements representing competing accounts of democratic principles and aspirations. It should prove very useful for undergraduate courses in modern and contemporary democratic theory. (Thomas Spragens)

Terchek and Conte's Theories of Democracy offers a wide-ranging collection of classical and contemporary perspectives on the problems and prospects of democratic society. Its most original feature is its inclusion of non-western voices in the chorus--or perhaps the cacophony--of contemporary democratic theory and practice. (Ball, Terence)

This book would be a useful text in an introductory-level course on democratic theory. (Political Studies)

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Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000
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