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“They Ain’T Making Elites Like They Used To”: The Never Ending Trouble With Democratic Elitism

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Chapter Summary

Peter Bachrach and other critics charged that democratic elitism relegates citizen involvement to the sidelines, in both its empirical analyses and as a normative ideal of democracy. They aim at a realist understanding of democracy. The first task is to analyze democracy as it is, not as it should be. In this view exposing and discarding myths about democracy is undoubtedly the most important contribution of democratic elitism. What is the balance sheet for democratic elitism? This chapter answers this question. It first considers the possibility that democratic elitism has resolved the relationship between elites and democracy so convincingly that debate about it is effectively over; by virtue of its triumph, democratic elitism is no longer much discussed. The chapter intends to show that this judgment is made plausible by current theories of democracy that have incorporated the central tenets of democratic elitism as unacknowledged key assumptions.

Keywords: democratic elitism; Peter Bachrach; tenets

10.1163/ej.9789004179394.i-230.12
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