Comparative Inquiry in Politics and Political Economy: Theories and Issues

By Ronald H. Chilcote | Go to book overview

7
THE POLITICAL DIMENSION REPRESENTATIVE AND PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY

Democracy is a term relevant to historical epochs of stability and turmoil. During times of stability democracy may justify the legacy and continuity of a political system, and it frequently has been associated with a practice of political bargaining and consensus as well as the preservation of individual freedoms and rights in the society at large. During moments of disruption, democracy may be employed in the struggle to eliminate class discrepancies and overturn injustices, with the goal of economic, social, and political equality. Its meaning appears to date to ancient Greece. A dictionary takes us to the Greek roots of the concept, with demos referring to people and kratia to authority in the sense of government by the people or government as a supreme power retained by the people and exercised either directly in the form of absolute or pure democracy or indirectly through a system of representation.

This distinction between a pure or direct form and a representative or indirect form of democracy is relevant not only to ancient times but to experiences of the past few centuries when under both capitalism and socialism representative democracy was practiced and the pure form occasionally appeared. This issue is at the root of comparative inquiry. We might ask, for instance, is formal or representative democracy a precondition for participatory and ultimately pure democracy en route to some higher form of society, be it under or beyond capitalism or socialism? Must representative democracy be transcended in the struggle for a participatory democracy? Are these two democracies merely different forms in the path toward a higher democracy? Is formal democracy a necessary but not sufficient condition for the transition to socialism? Is a change in

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Comparative Inquiry in Politics and Political Economy: Theories and Issues
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Part One - Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Politics of Comparative Inquiry 17
  • 2 - Theoretical Paths 31
  • Part Two - Dichotomies of Theories 53
  • 4 - The Social Dimension 83
  • 5 - The Cultural Dimension 103
  • 6 - The Economic Dimension 119
  • 7 - The Political Dimension Representative and Participatory Democracy 151
  • Part Three - Conclusion 177
  • 8 - The Unending Search for a Paradigm in Political Economy 179
  • GLOSSARY 187
  • References 197
  • Index 210
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