Modern Democratic Thought

Democracy remains to be the key concern of political scientists. For the past 50 years, they developed a range of theories that make up our present-day understanding of the democratic order. Among the most prominent theories of democracy, we have pluralist, participatory, liberal minimalist, deliberative, and agonistic theories. The most popular and timely direction in the political thought, democracy touches upon politics, economics, public administration, and international relations. None of the past regimes can compete in popularity with the democracy so far.

Interestingly, the idea of democracy is ancient. Despite the Greek origin, democracy did not live in the classical political thought primarily because of the authoritarian rule of monarchs and the Church. We went a long way from the Christian rule to liberalism and modern democratic ideas. They involve new thoughts and theories that have been developed in the last 50 years.

In the 1930s, the democratic theory of pluralism became popular in Europe. It was developed by Robert A. Dahl who based on political thoughts of James Madison. Dahl gave a definition to polyarchy that was a government of various groups that competed to reach their objectives. He described the American democracy and how it deployed polyarchy. In the 1960s -70s, the pluralism theory was criticized, and Dahl modified it together with his collaborator Charles Lindblom.

The theory of participatory democracy resembles the democratic model that existed in ancient Greece. Carole Pateman was the first to articulate this theory. It implies that active participation in politics allows individuals to enjoy their natural rights and psychological benefits from their political efficacy. As participation theory became utopian in the 1980s, it was succeeded by the theory of deliberate democracy. It co-existed with the liberal minimalist theory of democracy. Eventually, the agonistic pluralist theory associated with Marxist and social democratic projects came to challenge the theories above.

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