Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Democracy, Theories of
Hubertus Buchstein & Dirk Jörke
Theories of democracy consist of definitions and generalizations used to describe, explain, and evaluate existing or past political orders. Their purpose is thus twofold: (1) to get a better understanding of the preconditions and performance of democratic systems and (2) to try to judge this reality according to certain democratic core values. Democracy means collective self-determination. Its purpose is to form political decisions according to the will of the citizens. Apart from this rather abstract meaning, there is a great difference between ancient and modern democracy. The first section of this entry recapitulates the mainly negative use of democracy in ancient thought and the development from the ancient to the modern understanding of democracy, outlining three semantic transformations from the ancient to the modern understanding. The second section focuses on contemporary theories of democracy, distinguishing three types: empirical, positive, and normative. Finally, two different answers to the postnational challenge of ...