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Democracy and Its Critics
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Table of Contents

Part 1 The sources of modern democracy: the first transformation - to the democratic city-state; toward the second transformation - republicanism, representation, and the logic of equality. Part 2 Adversarial critics: anarchism; guardianship; a critique of guardianship. Part 3 A theory of the democratic process: justifications - the idea of equal intrinsic worth; personal autonomy; a theory of the democratic process; the problem of inclusion. Part 4 Problems in the democratic process: majority rule and the democratic process; majority rule - practise; process and substance; process versus process; when is a people entitled to the democratic process? Part 5 The limits and possibilities of democracy: the second democratic transformation - from the city-state to the nation-state; democracy, polyarchy, and participation; how polyarchy developed in some countries and not others; is minority domination inevitable?; pluralism, polyarchy and the common good; common good as process and substance. Part 6 Toward a third transformation: democracy in tomorrow's world; sketches for an advanced democratic country.

Reviews

Dahl defends democracy against various criticisms, including anarchism and its tenet that even democracy is coercive; the normative view that democracy is less desirable than elite rule; and the empirical claim that democracy is impossible due to an inevitable existence of an elite. Dahl argues that a widespread distribution of wealth is necessary for meaningful political democracy, an idea he discussed more fully in A Preface to Economic Democracy ( LJ 9/1/85). He also suggests how political institutions can prevent control by elites by incorporating groups of randomly selected citizens into the system. Dahl is well-known in political science for his major contributions to democratic theory; although this book contains material revised from earlier works, it is a necessary purchase for graduate libraries and recommended for undergraduate and public libraries.-- David Steiniche, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph

"Like democratic theory itself, Dahl's book is hugely inspiring. . . . this is a hugely impressive book, which traces the assumptions of democratic theory from 5th-century Athens to the present day and beyond. it is remarkable for its sustained attempt to connect theory and practice."-Susan Mendus, The Times Higher Education Supplement
"One of the foremost contemporary theorists of pluralist democracy."-Jack Lively, Times Literary Supplement
"[This book] could not have come at a more opportune moment. . . . Democracy and Its Critics is a work of extraordinary intelligence and, what is even rarer, a work of extraordinary wisdom. Mr. Dahl writes clearly and effectively. . . . The discussion is fresh and illuminating, the treatment of alternative views careful and respectful, the difficulties in his own views spelled out in detail. An attentive reader of this book will receive a real education in the meaning of democracy. . . . Beneath all the moderation and devotion to intellectual clarity that are so evident in this book, there is the moving presence of a profound passion for democracy."-Robert N. Bellah, New York Times Book Review
"America's leading expert on democratic theory delivers his magnum opus."-Philadelphia Inquirer
"Like democratic theory itself, Dahl's book is hugely inspiring. . . . This is a hugely impressive book, which traces the assumptions of democratic theory from 5th-century Athens to the present day and beyond. it is remarkable for its sustained attempt to connect theory and practice."-Susan Mendus, The Times Higher Education Supplement
"Dahl defends democracy against various criticisms, including anarchism and its tenet that even democracy is coercive. . . . A necessary purchase."-David Steiniche, Library Journal
"A necessary purchase for graduate libraries and recommended for undergraduate and public libraries."-Library Journal
"Robert Dahl is one of the great communicators. . . . Democracy and its Critics sums up a career of 30 years as the leading American writer on the theory and the practice of democratic government."-Alan Ryan, New Statesman and Society
Winner of the 1991 Elaine and David Spitz Book Award given by the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought for the best book published on liberal and/or democratic theory
Winner of the 1990 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Book Award given by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in the United States during the previous year on government, politics, or international affairs

"Robert Dahl is both a subtle analyst and a staunch defender of democratic values. What impresses me most is that he sees democracy not just as something fixed or given, but as a process that needs to be extended into every area of society, the economic as well as the political. His new book continues his splendid work."-Irving Howe
"This elegantly written book presents a synthesis of over thirty years of work by America's leading post-war democratic theorist. Dahl's clear, incisive style will appeal to the general reader as well as to specialists in political theory and comparative politics."-Alan Ware, University of Warwick

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