Power, legitimacy, and the interpretation 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:
Power, legitimacy, and the interpretation of democracy

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This chapter explores the political context surrounding the inflation of democratic meaning. It also reports a very basic conception of ‘democratic neutrality’ which preserves the ability of democracy to prevent the concentration of power based upon political or economic influence, or even upon the prima facie ability of cultural elites to preserve their own sources of power. The inflationary expansion of democracy can perhaps be addressed by examining four particular characteristics of the ‘new world order’: theoretical modelling; state actors and the preservation of sovereignty; the new role of Bretton Woods institutions; and the new role of non-governmental organizations. Cultural constructs cannot be permitted to trump the function of democracy as a means of diffusing political power. Democracy is the measure of political legitimacy due to its ability to minimize, better than any other contemporary alternative, the capacity of some individuals systematically to oppress others.

Keywords: democratic neutrality; democracy; political power; political legitimacy; Bretton Woods institutions; theoretical modelling; state actors; sovereignty; non-governmental organizations

Chapter.  10277 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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