The ambiguity of democracy

Katherine Fierlbeck

in Globalizing Democracy

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780719049958
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701416 | DOI:
The ambiguity of democracy

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This chapter explores some of the philosophical debates underlying democracy. It also describes the current controversies within the field of democratic theory. Accountability is an integral aspect of most power struggles. Rights are the symbolic articulation of the legitimacy of beliefs that already exists rather than declarations of what ought to exist. The modern conceptualization of human rights is grounded quite uneasily upon two distinct philosophical traditions. The political rights would grow to include social rights and would soon accommodate a very civilized set of economic rights. Contemporary liberal democracy is expected to perform two uncomfortably antagonistic political tasks. Both equality of treatment and personal freedoms are seen as fundamental characteristics of democracy. The function of democracy is to ensure the diffusion of power by stipulating that each citizen has the ability to influence the outcome of political decision-making.

Keywords: democracy; democratic theory; legitimacy; human rights; political rights; social rights; economic rights; political decision-making; equality; personal freedoms

Chapter.  10625 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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