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Adam Przeworski on Minimalist Liberalism - Dictionary of Arguments

Gaus I 150
Minimalist Liberalism/democray/Przeworski/Dryzek: The model of democracy most popular among comparative politics scholars, especially those in the burgeoning field of democratic transition and consolidation, expects far less from democracy than do the deliberative democrats. This model is essentially that proposed long ago by Schumpeter (1942)(1): democracy is no more than competition among elites for popular approval that confers the right to rule. In the 1950s this idea became the foundation for 'empirical' theories of democracy happy with the generally apathetic role of the ignorant and potentially authoritarian masses (Berelson, 1952(2); Sartori, 1962(3)). >Minimalist liberalism/Dryzek.
Przeworski/Dryzek: A rare normative defence of the minimalist model is provided by Przeworski (1999)(4) who argues that the model at least puts an end to large-scale political violence once those defeated accept that they have a realistic chance to return and win another day.
LijphartVsPrezworski: proponents of consensual democracy such as Lijphart, 1999(5), could respond that power-sharing not majority rule is the best defence against violence in a divided society. Dryzek: Given that the structure of interests in a complex society means that competing interests can never be reconciled, their provisional resolution in electoral competition is about the best we can ever do.


1. Schumpeter, Joseph A. (1942) Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper.
2. Berelson, Bernard (1952) 'Democratic theory and public opinion'. Public Opinion Quarterly, 16: 313—30.
3. Sartori, Giovanni (1962) Democratic Theory. Detroit: Wayne State Umversity Press.
4. Przeworski, Adam (1999) 'Minimalist conception of democracy: a defense'. In Ian Shapiro and Casiano Hacker-Cordön, eds, Democracy's Value. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 23—55.
5. Lijphart, Arend (1999) Patterns of Democracy: Governmental Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.


Dryzek, John S. 2004. „Democratic Political Theory“. In: Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. SAGE Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Przeworski, Adam
Gaus I
Gerald F. Gaus
Chandran Kukathas
Handbook of Political Theory London 2004


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