Strong Democracy


Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age by Benjamin R. Barber was published by the University of California Press in 1984 and republished in a twentieth anniversary edition in 2004. A classic of democratic theory, the book argues that representative or "thin" democracy is rooted in an individualistic "rights" perspective that diminishes the role of citizens in democratic governance. The work offers a theoretical critique of representative or liberal democracy and a foundation for participatory politics. The final chapter elucidates practical ways to apply the theory of strong democracy in large industrial societies. Strong democracy is also discussed in The Local Politics of Global Sustainability by Herman Daly, Thomas Prugh and Robert Costanza (2000), and is defined as "Politics understood as the creation of a vision that can respond to and change with the changing world." The authors go on to describe strong democracy thus: In a strong democracy, people –citizens – govern themselves to the greatest extent possible rather than delegate their power and responsibility to representatives acting in their names. Strong democracy does not mean politics as a way of life, as an all-consuming job, game, and avocation, as it is for so many professional politicians. But it does mean politics (citizenship) as a way of living: an expected element of one’s life. It is a prominent and natural role, such as that of “parent” or “neighbor”.
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original title: Strong Democracy
subtitle: Participatory Politics for a New Age
language: English
date of publication: 1984
genre: political philosophy
main subject: democracy

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