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Domestic Perspectives on Contemporary Democracy

Domestic Perspectives on Contemporary Democracy

Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Domestic Perspectives on Contemporary Democracy
    Book Description:

    In looking at the remarkable proliferation of democracies since 1974, this volume offers important insight into the challenges and opportunities that democracy faces in the twenty-first century. Distinguished contributors detail difficulties that democracies face from within and how they deal with them. Among the contemporary threats to democracy emanating from internal sources are tensions arising over technology and its uses; ethnic, religious, and racial distinctions; and disparate access to resources, education, and employment. A democratically elected government can behave more or less democratically, even when controlling access to information, using legal authority to aid or intimidate, and applying resources to shape the conditions for the next election. With elections recently disputed in the United States, Mexico, Lebanon, and the Ukraine, debates about the future of democracy are inescapably debates about what kind of democracy is desired. _x000B__x000B_Contributors are W. Lance Bennett, Bruce Bimber, Jon Fraenkel, Brian J. Gaines, Bernard Grofman, Wayne V. McIntosh, Peter F. Nardulli, Mark Q. Sawyer, Stephen Simon, Paul M. Sniderman, and Jack Snyder._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09197-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1 Democracy Challenged: Demography, Technology, and Democratic Possibilities
    (pp. 1-8)

    By its very nature, democracy is messy and chaotic, akin to making sausage. It is hardly surprising, then, that the process of establishing, maintaining, and improving democracy has been challenging and untidy since its reappearance in the eighteenth century. Just because “everyone is a democrat” now does not mean that making democracy work will be any easier in the twenty-first century. Indeed, not too long ago “everyone was a Keynesian.” Thus, democracy’s enviable, and historically unprecedented, global status means little in terms of implementing its laudable values, principles, and goals in the world’s diverse and ever-changing societies. The theoretically minded...

  5. Part I: Social Heterogeneity and Democracy:: Challenges and Opportunities

    • 2 Problems of Democratic Transition in Divided Societies
      (pp. 11-32)

      Moments of transition toward democracy are fraught with the danger of violence in ethnically divided societies. Democratization is typically intertwined with the rise of nationalism, a doctrine that demands self-rule for the nation. At such heady moments, nationalist movements in multiethnic societies often forge competing national aspirations. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, wars or large-scale civil violence broke out following experiments with mass electoral democracy in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Burundi, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Russia, and the former Yugoslavia (Mansfield and Snyder 2005). Elections did not cause the fighting in Iraq, but their polarizing effect did...

    • 3 Citizens, Identities, and Democratic Dialogues: Opportunities and Challenges of Diverse Societies
      (pp. 33-50)

      The twentieth century began with W. E. B. Du Bois stating that the problem of the twentieth century would be “the color line.” Du Bois’s judgment was correct then and it is a safe bet that race and ethnicity will play an equally important role in the twenty-first century, particularly in the politics of democratic regimes. This essay addresses two critical concepts that will play a powerful role in determining the impact of racial and ethnic issues on democratic politics: citizenship and contention. Both concepts, when coupled with race and ethnicity, have the potential to plant the seeds for the...

    • 4 Democracy, Diversity, and Leadership
      (pp. 51-70)

      The problem of “diversity” was once thought to be a distinctively American problem—An American Dilemma, Myrdal called it. It was not, of course, that intolerance was thought to be peculiarly American. Hitler, after all, was in his heyday as Myrdal wrote. The issue of race was a peculiarly American problem precisely because of the American commitment to equality. It was the contradiction between the commitment to equality and the intolerance, not the intolerance itself, that set America apart.

      There has been a loss of moral innocence—or more exactly, the loss of a sense of moral superiority—since the...

    • 5 Electoral Engineering, Social Cleavages, and Democracy
      (pp. 71-102)

      This chapter focuses on the potential for electoral engineering to serve as a tool to foster democracy, with a central concern being the role of electoral systems in mitigating ethnic conflict.¹ With democracy’s “third wave” having produced a large number of new (or “renewed”) democracies, and numerous countries aspiring to become democracies, electoral systems are presently an especially hot topic in the study of democratization. They promise to remain so for a good part of the twenty-first century. As a potential lever of political and social change, electoral systems possess two important features. The first is that they can be...

  6. Part II: Technology and Democracy:: Mass-Elite Linkages in the Twenty-first Century

    • 6 Technological Advances and Individual Liberties: Privacy and the Reach of the State in the Twenty-first Century
      (pp. 105-130)

      Privacy is a core component of a democracy, especially one whose governing structure is built upon notions of self-government and self-determination. Although the U.S. Constitution does not articulate it specifically as a corollary of democracy, individual privacy represents an important aspect of several rights itemized in the Bill of Rights; these include the freedoms of speech and religion, the privilege against self-incrimination, and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by government authorities. Indeed, we generally understand a free and open society to be one in which each individual is granted autonomy to pursue his or her own personal interests and...

    • 7 Engineering Consent: The Persistence of a Problematic Communication Regime
      (pp. 131-154)

      In the early decades of the twentieth century, the emerging consensus among many elites, including public intellectuals such as Walter Lippmann, was that publics were so explosive and potentially threatening to national interests that governance required the new art of public relations to engineer consent. By the dawn of the twenty-first century, the evolved technologies for engineering consent have come to mediate most relations between elites and publics. Indeed, the national political communication apparatus has become thoroughly institutionalized and professionalized, with cadres of pollsters, image consultants, marketing specialists, and spin doctors attached to parties, candidates, and causes. These trends are...

    • 8 The Internet and Political Fragmentation
      (pp. 155-170)

      Democracy requires the successful management of divisions in society. Often, the divisions of greatest concern for the health of democracy involve large-scale, persistent cleavages along well-demarcated lines: divisions within a state between linguistic or ethnic groups, or between regions with divergent economic structures and interests. At the outset of the twenty-first century, such persistent divides are central to the future of nations as diverse as Iraq and Belgium. In addition, a number of observers have argued recently that another form of division threatens the quality of democracies. The putative cause is political fragmentation, which can be defined as the ramification...

  7. Contributors
    (pp. 171-174)
  8. Index
    (pp. 175-178)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 179-181)