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Democracy in the Fifty States

Synopsis

The disillusionment of scholars and nonscholars alike who conclude that democracy in the United States has failed calls for an innovative examination of our democratic processes. Kim Quaile Hill, arguing that these critics have been too hasty in their judgment, presents the first comprehensive assessment on the extent of achieved democratization. He examines the range of representative democracy in the states by comparing them on the key components of democracy indicated in empirical democratic theory- equal rights to vote, competitiveness among political parties, and the degree of mass participation. Building on empirical democratic theory and scholarship in comparative state politics, Hill follows the tradition of prominent cross-national studies to develop this intranational analysis of democratic processes. These analyses provide considerable evidence that the states vary substantially in the extent to which they approximate the democratic ideal. Hill begins with an evaluation of each of the primary ocmpenents of democracy and how states fulfilled them. He also replicates this analysis for the late 1940s and the early 1980s, two periods chosen for their historical distinctiveness in terms of legal regimes relevant to democracy in the states. The preceding analysis results in comprehensive measures of democracy in the states. For readers skeptical of gauging such a complex concept as democratization, Hill provides an empirical demonstration of the validity and reliability of the measures. And, for critics who still ask "Does democracy deliver the goods?", he presents strong evidence that more-democratic states adopt more equitable policies for citizens' welfare and ensure a greater range of civil rights than do less-democratic states.

Additional information

Contributors:
Includes content by:
  • Woodrow Wilson
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Lincoln, NE
Publication year:
  • 1994