Geraint Parry and Michael Moran
This collection of essays is about a concept and a process: about the concept of democracy in all its varied meanings, and about the process—democratization—by which democracy might be attained. Its appearance is prompted by a convergence in the interests of scholars and of practitioners. Scholars have long been concerned with the meaning, the limits and the possibilities of democracy. The turbulent political changes at the end of the 1980s, notably but not exclusively in Eastern Europe, meant that these concerns escaped from the library and the study out to the world of practical political struggle. Sustaining and creating democratic political practices suddenly became an urgent political priority. This collection examines the theory and practice of democracy and democratization. In these introductory pages we do three things: we discuss the contested concept of democracy itself; we sketch the problems of democratization; and we provide an overview of the contributions in the body of the collection.
The vocabulary of politics is nowhere fixed. There is not—and there certainly should not be—a learned Academy whose task it is to construct a dictionary of political terms which lays down how they are to be used in perpetuity. Or, if there is a form of Academy, it comprises all the users of political language which, in a democracy in particular, should include every citizen. The task of political thought has been in large measure one of such definition and reconstitution. As Sheldon Wolin has put it:
The designation of certain activities and arrangements as