Polyarki och demokrati. En idéhistorisk studie av Robert Dahls demokratiteori
Sammanfattning: Since the nineteen-fifties, the American political scientist Robert Dahl (born in 1915) has been one of the most prominent democracy theorists in the world. In the book Politics, Economics, and Welfare, he and his colleague Charles E. Lindblom in 1953 introduced the notion of polyarchy as a denomination for the incomplete democracies of the Western world. Linguistically speaking, this notion was formed in connection with the ones already existing in the philosopher Aristotle's (384-322 B.C.) comparative teachings on government. Later, it has become apparent that the notion of polyarchy has already been in use by other authors, such as Johannes Althusius (1614) and Sir Ernest Barker (1947).Robert Dahl has been active at Yale University (in New Haven, Connecticut, USA), and is regarded as one of the foremost representatives of the political-science discipline known as pluralism. During the nineteen-fifties and the beginning of the sixties, he - like most other political scientists - was influenced by the so-called behavioralism, which strove to fashion modern political science using behavioural science as a model. This largely sets the tone for one of Dahl's most well-known works - the book A Preface to Democratic Theory, dating from 1956. He there operationalizes the democracy notion using eight different criteria. Those communities that meet all of the criteria up to at least 0.5 on a scale ranging from 0 to 1.0, are regarded in this book as polyarchies. In the book Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition, written in 1971, Dahl concentrates on two dimensions: inclusion (of the citizens) and the degree of contestation between, for instance, different political parties. This book also contains an attempt to classify the countries of the world based on their degree of polyarchy. A controversial notion in the book is the fact that the most stable democracies usually are the countries that have introduced freedom of the press, multi-party systems, and the electoral secrecy even before introducing a universal right to vote. The United Kingdom and Sweden are mentioned as examples in this case.Since the late nineteen-sixties, Robert Dahl has become increasingly interested in the problems facing democracy from a normative perspective. This is a prominent feature of his book On Democracy, from 1998. Instead of polyarchy, he has in recent years chosen to distinguish between two separate definitions of the notion of democracy: democracy as an unattainable ideal and the less-than-perfect democracies of the real world.
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