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
Democracy is a form of collective decision making that presupposes some form of equality among the participants. The term is used empirically and normatively, often simultaneously. It is often used to describe or distinguish one kind of political regime from another. A democratic system, for example, is one in which there are procedures and institutions for capturing the views of citizens and translating them into binding decisions. At the same time, however, these empirical descriptions often contain within them normative claims about the way institutions ought to be structured or behave. Thus, it can be said that one society (whether now or in the past) is more (or less) democratic than another. The ideal of equality is particularly important to the normative evaluation of democracy. A democratic political system, on this view, is one that manifests in its institutions and procedures a conception of its members as free and If ...