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
Jeffrey E. Green
Unlike other political values and institutions closely associated with the contemporary practice of democracy—like liberal rights, human equality, representation, elections, and mass parties— political participation among broad segments of the citizenry is so fundamental to the practice of democracy that it is impossible to conceive of democracy without it. Despite the diversity of institutional forms in which democracy has appeared over the last 2,500 years, democracy has always indicated a political society in which citizens, relative to members of other kinds of regime, have superior opportunities to engage in political life. How much and what kind of political participation is required in order for a democracy to exist are open questions, but that democracy needs widespread and regular political participation from its citizens is one of the few essential criteria that unites democracies from all times and places and distinguishes them from rival forms of government. Yet, despite this broad ...