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Title: Participation and recent theories of democracy
Author: Pateman, Carole
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1971
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Recent theories of democracy agree in rejecting the 'classical' theory and in giving only a minor place to popular participation. Attempts to defend the 'classical' theory have failed to show that the rejection is unjustified given the empirical evidence of the political apathy of the ordinary man. Chapter 1. The theory of a very influential forerunner of recent theorists, Schumpeter, is discussed. The work of Mayo, Dahl and Sartori, theorists concerned to establish the defining characteristics of democracy, is examined. They agree that the essential feature is the electoral competition of leaders. So long as a certain minimum of the electorate periodically vote nothing further is required of them. Sartori argues that apathy is "nobody's fault". Three theories of stable democracy, complementary to those of the first group of writers, are discussed. Berelson, Almond and Verba, and Eckstein are concerned with the attributes of the citizen and the forms of non-political authority structures required for a stable democratic system. It is argued that all the writers considered adhere to a common theory of democracy: the contemporary theory. The critics of this theory argue a) that despite claims to the contrary, a new normative theory has been produced: b) that the 'classical' theory has been misunderstood. Chapter II. It is argued that although facts and values can be distinguished from each other there is no unbridgeable, logical gulf between tnem; rather a two-way relationship exists and values are 'vulnerable' to facts. Further it is argued that it is not possible for political theorists to use certain key terms, e.g. political equality, in a purely descriptive sense. An evaluative background is needed to make particular interpretations intelligible. The evaluative framework of the contemporary theory of democracy, which includes a model of tne ideal (private) citizen, is discussed. The notion of one 'classical' theory of democracy is shown to be a myth. The contemporary theory descends from 'classical' theorists (e.g. Bentham) who held the sane narrow, protective view of participation. Other 'classical' theorists held a very different view of participation. Chapter III. On the basis of a discussion of the participatory theories of two 'classical' theorists, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and J.S. Mill, and one twentieth century theorist, G.D.H. Cole, it is argued that the significant contribution to democratic theory of the theorists of participation is the recognition of an inter- relationship between the form of, and operation of, political institutions and the attributes of individuals interacting within them. The major hypothesis of these theorists is that participation is educative, in the widest sense of that term. The psychological impact of participation, and the political control it gives to citizens, means that the more men participate the better able they are to do so; the political system becomes self-sustaining. In Mill's and Cole's theories it is argued that if citizens are to participate at national level then they need 'practice' in more familiar spheres. Cole argues that the most important area for such participation is industry, so that industrial authority structures must therefore be democratised. Chapter IV. Despite criticisms of the contemporary theory of democracy no attempt has been made to provide even the beginnings of a modern participatory theory of democracy that retains the essentials of the earlier theories. It is argued that the crucial variable in the political socialisation process is the authority structures of familiar spheres of social life, the most important area being industry. The democratisation of this area makes possible the transformation of the existing political culture. The evaluative framework of a modern participatory theory of democracy is discussed, including its wide definition of the 'political' itself. The theory argues that all men are potentially political animals; what is missing at present is the institutional setting to develop this potentiality. Chapter V. Recent "empirical" democratic theory has ignored the important fact that the existing pattern of political participation is linked to class position. Furthermore, the social and psychological characteristics correlated with low rates of participation are not a random collection of items but form a non-participation syndrome; a syndrome having both cognitive and psychological aspects. The empirical data in The Civic Culture support the argument of the participatory theory that the workplace is crucial for political socialisation. Other important, but neglected, evidence on this point is reviewed. It is argued that the typical social- isatlon process of the working class citizen, culminating, crucially, in socialisation in the workplace, accounts for the psychological aspect of the syndrome. The (inter-related) cognitive aspect of the syndrome is that apathy arises becaude participation in the existing system seems pointless to the ordinary citizen. This aspect of the explanation is supported by a reinterpretation of working class respondents' replies to scales designed to ensure political efficacy, and "authoritarianism" in the sense of commitment to democratic norms. Chapter VI. The available evidence on participation in industry has been neglected by students of political socialisation and democracy. The argument that leisure is now more important than work is shown to be unconvincing. Participation at the lower (shop floor) level and the higher management level must be distinguished. Ihere is a good deal of evidence to show both that the ordinary worker wants more participation at the lower level and that it is feasible. Evidence on experiments with participation at this level, and the collective contract in the mining and automobile industries is reviewed. The arguments of the participatory theory is also supported by experiments with small groups and by the writings of many modern management theorists who argue that lower level participation is essential for real efficiency in the enterprise. Chapter VII. Most definitions of participation in industry are very imprecise, and 'participation' and 'democracy' are often used as synonyms, so that clarification is necessary. Pseudo-participation and two forms of participation (in decision making) are distinguished: partial and full participation. The claim that democracy in industry already exists is rejected. It is shown that it is a mistake to equate 'democracy' and 'participation'. To influence both aspects of the non-participation syndrome higher level participation is required. Three British examples of higher level participation are discussed, at Glacier Metal, John Lewis Partnership, and the Scott Bader Commonwealth. In general this, and other evidence, indicates that workers have little interest in higher level participation. But too hasty a conclusion should not be drawn, as evidence also indicates that the lower level in the enterprise acts as a 'training ground' for the higher, so that a system combining opportunities at both levels would be required for the maximum interest and activity. Chapter VIII. For an example of an attempt to democratize industry over a whole economy one has to turn to the Yugoslav system of workers' self management. One major problem in assessing the system is the role of the Communist League. It is argued that though important this does not completely nullify the self-management structure. Another important factor is the economic reforms of 1965, especially since they have helped to increase the influence of 'experts' within the enterprise and within the workers' council itself.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Democracy ; Management ; Employee participation ; Political participation