Part II: Democratic Theory and Participation
65 Chapter 4 Normative Democratic Theories: Concepts and Questions This part of the book is concerned with normative democratic theory which fo- cuses on the ideals and concepts of participation, deliberation, citizenship and robust public sphere that contribute to democratic quality� Normative democrat- ic theories like all normative theories of politics assume that people are able to and may want to act in a different way than they usually do� In liberal democra- cies people at large usually do not actively participate in public/political life and at best they vote in regular periodic elections at both the state and local levels, occasionally expressing their view in a referendum if asked by the government to do so, or form interest groups to lobby their representatives� Radical democratic theorists who advocate participation, however, take it for granted that if institu- tions, mechanisms, and venues that facilitate and encourage citizens’ participa- tion were available (to everyone), and if the state was more responsive to the various fora where participation takes place, it would become a desirable and rewarding practice for many citizens� It is not my aim in this chapter to discuss or summarize the arguments of all the various accounts of a more robust democracy; what I intend to do instead is to examine some fundamental claims of radical democrats1 as a departure from procedural, descriptive, elitist democratic theory of a Schumpeterian type� To evaluate these claims I will look at some vital questions that more participatory, deliberative, or associative ideals of...
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