Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Dahl, Robert (1915–)
Robert Dahl is one of the most renowned American political scientists of the twentieth century, with a long and distinguished career at Yale University. From his association in the 1950s and 1960s with the behavioral movement in political science to his recent work, Dahl's corpus forms a relentless and strikingly consistent analysis of the nature and workings of contemporary—predominantly American—democracy. Most notably, this preoccupation has involved the construction, revising, and restating of the theory of polyarchy. An early statement of this theory was in Preface to Democratic Theory. This short book laid out the theory of polyarchy in contrast to a Madisonian theory of democracy, which Dahl thought exaggerated the importance of constitutional checks and balances for a well-functioning polity, while it underestimated the importance of “social checks and balances” in a pluralistic society. The theory of polyarchy was also contrasted with a “populistic” theory of democracy that sought Among ...