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Beyond the Happy Consensus about Democratic Elitism

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image of Comparative Sociology
For content published from 1960-2001, see International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

A growing number of studies assign elites and leaders a larger role than democratic elitism assumes. Democratic elitism is not a coherent theory because it papers over three quite distinct models of political representation and democratic control: Robert Dahl's mandate model; the accountability model associated chiefly with John Plamenatz; and the authorization model set forth by Adam Przeworski and colleagues. This last model, wherein elites and leaders conceptualize and present voters' choices, best captures elite-voter relations in today's democracies. This authorization model is decidedly pessimistic about controlling elites and leaders in a democracy, but it is nonetheless compatible with a skeptical reading of Schumpeter.

Affiliations: 1: Political Science, Eötvös University, 1-3 Egyetem tér, Budapest 1053, Hungary


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