Sociology Index


The term democracy in Greek is literally rule by the people, for the people. In the Greek world, political organization was usually centered around ‘city states’ and male citizens had equal rights to participate in government. The Greek concept of citizenship in 'democracy' implied that citizens must become actively involved in government, not just vote for representatives.

In modern usage the term democracy has become narrowed to mean a system of government where citizens have equal legal rights to vote in free elections. Aristotle used the term as a synonym for rule by the wealthy.

Under Aristocracy, the high-born ruled.

Under Theocracy, the high-priests ruled.

Aristotle used the term Theocracy as a synonym for rule by the wealthy, but for which the appropriate term is Plutocracy, and Oligarchy can simply be a rule by privileged group. In Monarchy, Monarchs were often absolute in their power. Most studies of the origin of democracy focus on one or a number of important factors and circumstances that seem to be associated with its emergence.

A more comprehensive approach that views all the contributing factors as expressions of a more fundamental process of change in the society is necessary. Society must acquire the capability to promote the successful adoption of democratic institutions in different social and cultural contexts. The genesis of democracy can be traced back to the Greek city-state of Athens. The democratic idea of a government responsible to the governed, and of civil liberties of thought, speech, writing and worship have been stimulated by Greek history.

Democracy or Plutocracy? The Case for a Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Buckley v. Valeo  - JONATHAN BINGHAM - The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 486, No. 1, (1986).

Human Rights and Global Democracy - Ethics & International Affairs, Volume 22.4 (Winter 2008) - Michael Goodhart, December 30, 2008.
Abstract: Human rights and global democracy are widely assumed to be compatible, but the conceptual and practical connection between them has received little attention. It argues that human rights are a necessary condition for global democracy.

Democracy, deliberation and design: the case of online discussion forums, Scott Wright, De Montfort Univ, New Media & Society, Vol. 9, No.5 (2007). Within democratic theory, the deliberative variant has assumed pre-eminence. Evidence for the impact of design is drawn from analysis of European Union and UK discussion forums. This evidence suggests that we should view deliberation as dependent on design and choice, rather than a predetermined product of the technology.

Democracy and Fascism: Class, Civil Society, and Rational Choice in Italy.
E. SPENCER WELLHOFER, Professor of Political Science, University of Denver - American Political Science Review (2003). Abstract: The origins of fascism remain a major concern to social scientists. Because fascism emerged in societies seeking transitions to democracy, a better understanding of these failed attempts at democratic transitions improves our understanding of both democracy's possibilities and the strengths and weakness of democratic theory. Indeed, theoretical arguments employed to explain fascism have their analogues in theories of democracy. Three arguments have been advanced to explain both democracy and fascism: class, civil society, and rational choice theory.

Presidentialism, Multipartism, and Democracy: The Difficult Combination
SCOTT MAINWARING, University of Notre Dame. This article argues that the combination of a multiparty system and presidentialism is especially inimical to stable democracy. There are three reasons why this institutional combination is problematic. Multiparty presidentialism is especially likely to produce immobilizing executive and legislative deadlock, and such deadlock can destabilize democracy. Multipartism is more likely than bipartism to produce ideological polarization, thereby complicating problems often associated with presidentialism.

Deliberative Politics. The Public Sphere, Democracy and Political Participation - Bettina Lotsch. Abstract: In present debate modern theories of democracy prevalently appear to define conceptions of democracy by stressing adjectives as for example elitist, participatory, economic or associative suggesting that this may also be the case for a conception of ‘deliberative democracy’. Whether deliberative democracy can claim to be more than only a recent trend in political theory and whether a conception of deliberative democracy can rightly be described as substantial and contributing to an understanding of the political which focuses on emancipation and participation.