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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