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Power, legitimacy and the interpretation of democratic ideas

As the globalization of democracy becomes increasingly palpable, the political obstacles to its achievement become overshadowed by more vexing questions concerning the very nature of democracy itself. This book examines some of the philosophical and theoretical debates underlying the 'democratic project' which increasingly dominates the field of comparative development. The first concern presented is normative and epistemological: as democracy becomes widely accepted as the political currency of legitimacy, the more broadly it is defined. The second issue examined refers to the claims being made regarding how best to secure a democratic system in developing states. The book shows how 'democracy' has quickly become, both academically and politically, all things to all people: it represents a philosophical ideal, a political strategy, and an instrument of economic well-being. It looks at some of the philosophical debates underlying democracy in order to explain why it has evolved into such an ambiguous concept. The book surveys the arguments supporting the expansion of 'democracy' from its individualistic orientations to an account more able to accommodate the concerns and aspirations of groups. Critical assessments of these new trends in democratic theory are presented. The book examines the political contexts within which debates about democratization are centred. A discussion on the claim that a robust democracy depends upon our ability to 'strengthen civil society', follows. The book situates the debate over democracy and development more closely by examining the political context surrounding the inflation of democratic meaning. It examines the consequences of the globalization of democratic norms.

Between promise and practice
Author: Darren Halpin

Whether called pressure groups, NGOs, social movement organisations or organised civil society, the value of ‘groups’ to the policy process, to economic growth, to governance, to political representation and to democracy has always been contested. However, there seems to be a contemporary resurgence in this debate, largely centred on their democratising potential: can groups effectively link citizens to political institutions and policy processes? Are groups an antidote to emerging democratic deficits? Or do they themselves face challenges in demonstrating their legitimacy and representativeness? This book debates the democratic potential and practice of groups, focusing on the vibrancy of internal democracies, and modes of accountability with those who join such groups and to the constituencies they advocate for. It draws on literatures covering national, European and global levels, and presents empirical material from the UK and Australia.

From pious subjects to critical participants
Author: John Anderson

This book examines the contribution of different Christian traditions to the waves of democratisation that have swept various parts of the world in recent decades, offering an historical overview of Christianity's engagement with the development of democracy, before focusing in detail on the period since the 1970s. Successive chapters deal with: the Roman Catholic conversion to democracy and the contribution of that church to democratisation; the Eastern Orthodox ‘hesitation’ about democracy; the alleged threat to American democracy posed by the politicisation of conservative Protestantism; and the likely impact on democratic development of the global expansion of Pentecostalism. The author draws out several common themes from the analysis of these case studies, the most important of which is the ‘liberal-democracy paradox’. This ensures that there will always be tensions between faiths which proclaim some notion of absolute truth and political order, and which are also rooted in the ideas of compromise, negotiation and bargaining.

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Violence, alterity, community
Editor: Stella Gaon

This book explores the political implications of violence and alterity (radical difference) for the practice of democracy, and reformulates the possibility of community that democracy is said to entail. Most significantly, contributors intervene in traditional democratic theory by contesting the widely held assumption that increased inclusion, tolerance and cultural recognition are democracy's sufficient conditions. Rather than simply inquiring how best to expand the ‘demos’, they investigate how claims to self-determination, identity and sovereignty are a problem for democracy, and how, paradoxically, alterity may be its greatest strength. Contributions include an appeal to the tension between fear and love in the face of anti-Semitism in Poland, injunctions to rethink the identity-difference binary and the ideal of ‘mutual recognition’ that dominate liberal-democratic thought, critiques of the canonical ‘we’ which constitutes the democratic community, and a call for an ethics and a politics of ‘dissensus’ in democratic struggles against racist and sexist oppression. The contributors mobilise some of the most powerful critical insights emerging across the social sciences and humanities—from anthropology, sociology, critical legal studies, Marxism, psychoanalysis, critical race theory and post-colonial studies—to reconsider the meaning and the possibility of ‘democracy’ in the face of its contemporary crisis.

Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women
Editor: Shirin M. Rai

The role of national machineries, as a way to promote the status of women, acquired international relevance during the World Conference on the International Women's Year, in Mexico City in 1975. This book reflects Division for the Advancement of Women's (DAW) long-standing interest in the area of national machineries, bringing together the experiences, research and insights of experts. The first part of the book sets out the major issues facing national machineries at the conceptual level. It reflects upon five aspects of democratization: devolution or decentralization; the role of political parties; monitoring and auditing systems; and the importance of increasing the presence of women within institutions of the state and government. The second part is a comparative analysis and sets out the major issues facing national machineries at the political level. A combination of factors, including civil society, state bodies and political actors, need to come together for national machineries to function effectively in the interest of gender equality. Next comes the 'lessons learned' by national machineries in mainstreaming gender. National machineries should have an achievable agenda, an important part of which must be 'a re-definition of gender issues. The third part contains case studies that build upon the specific experiences of national machineries in different countries. The successful experience of Nordic countries in gender mainstreaming is also discussed.

Editor: Peter Burnell

Democratization is a major political phenomenon of the age and has been the focus of a burgeoning political science literature. This book considers democratization across a range of disciplines, from anthropology and economics, to sociology, law and area studies. The construction of democratization as a unit of study reflects the intellectual standpoint of the inquirer. The book highlights the use of normative argument to legitimize the exercise of power. From the 1950s to the 1980s, economic success enabled the authoritarian governments of South Korea and Taiwan to achieve a large measure of popular support despite the absence of democracy. The book outlines what a feminist framework might be and analyses feminist engagements with the theory and practice of democratization. It also shows how historians have contributed to the understanding of the processes of democratization. International Political Economy (IPE) has always had the potential to cut across the levels-of-analysis distinction. A legal perspective on democratization is presented by focusing on a tightly linked set of issues straddling the border between political and judicial power as they have arisen. Classic and contemporary sociological approaches to understanding democracy and democratization are highlighted, with particular attention being accorded to the post-1989 period. The book displays particularities within a common concern for institutional structures and their performance, ranging over the representation of women, electoral systems and constitutions (in Africa) and presidentialism (in Latin America). Both Europe and North America present in their different ways a kind of bridge between domestic and international dimensions of democratization.

Democracy betrayed?

This book builds a theoretical framework through which previously neglected international factors are brought into the analyses of transitions to democracy. It then explores the case of Algeria. It contributes to the literature on democratisation and provides an analysis of Algerian politics during the last two decades. More specifically, it examines how international variables influence the behaviour and activities of Algerian political actors. By bridging the comparative politics and international relations literature, the book offers a new understanding of the initiation, development and outcome of transitions to democracy. International factors, far from being marginal and secondary, are treated as central explanatory variables. Such external factors were crucial in the failed Algerian transition to democracy, when the attitudes and actions of key international actors shaped the domestic game and its final outcome. In particular, the book looks at the controversial role of the Islamic Salvation Front and how its part was perceived abroad. In addition, it argues that international factors significantly contribute to explaining the persistence of authoritarian rule in Algeria, to its integration into the global economy and its co-optation into the war on terror.