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Civil Society, Democracy and Democratization

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Dorota Pietrzyk-Reeves

The book contributes to the ongoing discussion and research on civil society in the context of democracy and democratization. It provides a theoretical analysis of civil society, participation, the public sphere and democratic consolidation in light of normative democratic theory and the challenges of democratic transformation in Central and Eastern Europe. It also offers a novel approach to some of the key issues in that debate including corruption and democratic consolidation, active citizenship, civic unity and the rule of law as well as theories of democratization. Finally, it asks the question as to whether a properly functioning democracy must be complemented with civil society and the numerous roles it plays in a political community of free citizens.
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4. Normative Democratic Theories: Concepts and Questions65

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Chapter 4 Normative Democratic Theories: Concepts and Questions

This part of the book is concerned with normative democratic theory which focuses on the ideals and concepts of participation, deliberation, citizenship and robust public sphere that contribute to democratic quality. Normative democratic 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 democracies 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 institutions, mechanisms, and venues that facilitate and encourage citizens’ participation 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...

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