The Democracy Sourcebook (MIT Press)

ISBN 13: 9780262541473

The Democracy Sourcebook (MIT Press)

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9780262541473: The Democracy Sourcebook (MIT Press)

The Democracy Sourcebook offers a collection of classic writings and contemporary scholarship on democracy, creating a book that can be used by undergraduate and graduate students in a wide variety of courses, including American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political philosophy. The editors have chosen substantial excerpts from the essential theorists of the past, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville, and the authors of The Federalist Papers; they place them side by side with the work of such influential modern scholars as Joseph Schumpeter, Adam Przeworski, Seymour Martin Lipset, Samuel P. Huntington, Ronald Dworkin, and Amartya Sen.

The book is divided into nine self-contained chapters: "Defining Democracy," which discusses procedural, deliberative, and substantive democracy; "Sources of Democracy," on why democracy exists in some countries and not in others; "Democracy, Culture, and Society," about cultural and sociological preconditions for democracy; "Democracy and Constitutionalism," which focuses on the importance of independent courts and a bill of rights; "Presidentialism versus Parliamentarianism"; "Representation," discussing which is the fairest system of democratic accountability; "Interest Groups"; "Democracy's Effects," an examination of the effect of democracy on economic growth and social inequality; and finally, "Democracy and the Global Order" discusses the effects of democracy on international relations, including the propensity for war and the erosion of national sovereignty by transnational forces.

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About the Author:

Robert A. Dahl, was a leading authority on democracy, and the author of many books, including A Preface to Democracy, Democracy and Its Critics, and How Democratic Is the American Constitution? He was Sterling Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Yale University.

José Antonio Cheibub is Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University.

Ian Shapiro is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor and Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Yale University.


If you want to learn about democracy, The Democracy Sourcebook is the place to start. Dahl, Shapiro, and Cheibub have collected the best readings, both historical and contemporary, on what democracy is, how it works, and why it is important. This book will be the standard reference work on the subject.

(Joshua Cohen, Leon and Anne Goldberg Professor of the Humanities and Head of the Department of Political Science, MIT)

The Democracy Sourcebook is a magisterial collection of classic and contemporary readings, carefully chosen and edited, that gives readers direct access to some of the most important texts in the development of democratic thought.

(Thomas F. Remington, Emory University)

The Democracy Sourcebook brings together the classical texts on democratic politics with the best examples of contemporary scholarly argument and analysis. The modern texts are not yet classics, though some of them will be, and their inclusion here definitely gives them a leg up. For students who want to understand democracy and for students who see themselves as democratic citizens and activists, this is a superb collection.

(Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ)

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