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
Political theorists have used the term radical democracy in different ways. In general, the “radical” of radical democracy refers to a wish to address, and change, the fundamentals of democracy. This should come as no surprise, given the etymological origin of the word “radical,” namely the Latin radix , meaning root. Thus, radical democrats challenge what is at the root of democracy as we know it. Among radical democrats there are different views of what the basis of democracy should be; indeed, contemporary radical democrats suggest that we should not think of democracy as being rooted in any ground. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was an early radical democrat. He criticized representative democracy and argued for direct and participatory democracy, something that was later taken up by participatory democrats in the late twentieth century. For Rousseau, the ideal is a political community without divisions and where the will of the people is ...