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Vital DemocracyA Theory of Democracy in Action$
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Frank Hendriks

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199572786

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199572786.001.0001

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Participatory Democracy

Participatory Democracy

All Together Now

(p.107) 6 Participatory Democracy
Vital Democracy

Frank Hendriks (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In participatory democracy, preferences are not quasi‐mechanically aggregated, as in voter democracy, but interactively ‘transformed’ into something that is ‘more than the sum of the original inputs’. Participation has an intrinsic value surpassing the instrumental utility; it has not only a cerebral side (deliberating issues together) but also a physical, action‐oriented side (tackling problems together). In practice, participatory democracy is a dispersed and fluid phenomenon, but it can be found not only in historical cases of popular government but also in contemporary expressions of subpolitics, communal self‐rule, and ‘deliberative’ or ‘communicative’ citizen governance. Low expectations of decisive leadership – authority does not descend from the top down, but it rises from the bottom up – are counterbalanced by high expectations – too high, according to critics – of active citizenship. The core quality of participatory democracy is the cultivation of concord and commonality; the associated pitfall is the leaning towards boundlessness and uniformization.

Keywords:   round‐table dialogue, sub‐politics, citizen governance, inclusion, deliberative transformation, communalism/holism/collectivism, indivisible sovereignty, radical loyalty, communality, uniformization, hyper‐accountability

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