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Globalizing DemocracyPower, Legitimacy and the Interpretation of Democratic Ideas$
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Katherine Fierlbeck

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780719049958

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719049958.001.0001

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The ambiguity of democracy

The ambiguity of democracy

Chapter:
(p.37) 2 The ambiguity of democracy
Source:
Globalizing Democracy
Author(s):

Katherine Fierlbeck

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9780719049958.003.0003

This chapter explores some of the philosophical debates underlying democracy. It also describes the current controversies within the field of democratic theory. Accountability is an integral aspect of most power struggles. Rights are the symbolic articulation of the legitimacy of beliefs that already exists rather than declarations of what ought to exist. The modern conceptualization of human rights is grounded quite uneasily upon two distinct philosophical traditions. The political rights would grow to include social rights and would soon accommodate a very civilized set of economic rights. Contemporary liberal democracy is expected to perform two uncomfortably antagonistic political tasks. Both equality of treatment and personal freedoms are seen as fundamental characteristics of democracy. The function of democracy is to ensure the diffusion of power by stipulating that each citizen has the ability to influence the outcome of political decision-making.

Keywords:   democracy, democratic theory, legitimacy, human rights, political rights, social rights, economic rights, political decision-making, equality, personal freedoms

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