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Democracy

1994
Author:

Anthony Arblaster

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A revised and expanded edition of a favorite text for students embarking on the study of democracy, including the collapse of European communism.

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The dramatic changes in Eastern Europe, particularly the virtual collapse of European communism have led Anthony Arblaster to update this classic text. He first examines the history of the theory and practice of democracy, and the fierce opposition it often provoked. Arblaster shows that "direct" democracy—people governing themselves through participation in the processes of decision making and policy making—has defined democracy historically. Our representative type of democracy is a relatively late arrival on the political scene.

Arblaster finds the core of the idea of democracy in the notion of popular power, and in the second half of his book he explores the meaning of this concept and the problems it creates. Drawing on the classical writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Tom Paine, and John Stuart Mill, he shows how wide the gap is between early ideas of a fully democratic society and the limited realities of today's Western democracies. Arblaster finds that democracy remains a relevant ideal and an ever-present challenge to conventional political thinking.

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Anthony Arblaster is a reader in politics at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

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