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polyarchy


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Literally, ‘rule by the many’. Term resurrected by R. A. Dahl (1971) to denote a representative democracy with substantial interest‐group influence on government. Dahl defended the pluralist institutions of a modern representative democracy both against those who claimed that countries were governed by narrow ‘power elites’ and against those who were fearful of the ‘tyranny of the majority’; Dahl's case‐studies showed that neither was true, at least in New Haven, Connecticut. In more recent work (notably A Preface to Economic Democracy, 1985), Dahl has been more critical of pluralist regimes for the lack of democracy inside institutions such as companies.

Subjects: Politics.


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