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On Democracy [Anglais] [Broché]

Robert A Dahl

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During the last half of the twentieth century the world witnessed an extraordinary and unprecedented political change. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.2 étoiles sur 5  16 commentaires
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great Place To Begin A Study of Democracy 22 mai 2004
Par Andrew Rock - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I read this as a precursor to reading other works regarding the challenges facing democracies. Dahl's book is written for the general reader, the beginner, someone unfamiliar with the subject, or a student who has been away from the subject for a while and wants a broad, relatively easy reading survey of the topics and issues facing democracies. It is written not for the scholar but for the informed lay person. It goes down easily in several metro commutes and even worked as bed time reading. It is also a nice calm look at issues that can become very heated in the press and media. A several page mention of the uniqueness of India, the world's most populous democracy, has also triggered my latent interest in following up on that topic as well.
13 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Basic 30 avril 2006
Par Urobolos - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Given that Professor Dahl has written numerous books on democracy and is considered an expert in the field, "On Democracy" is surprisingly uninteresting. The book covers various aspects of democracy (history, preconditions, systems of government, elections, and its relationship to capitalism) superficially. With the exception of a few (very occasional) facts, the book provides little beyond what an educated person with an interest in democracy (e.g., college and reads the newspaper) already knows.

Part of the problem is the writing: it is meandering, thus the book's 200 pages are not enough to go into any issue in depth. Part of the problem is a lack of focus, for example, Dahl spends several pages trying to show that assembly based democracy is not practical for large populations (which should be obvious), while not a single page on how democracies in practice assess the opinions of large populations (e.g., polling, districting, etc.).

A deeper problem may simply be that Dahl is a political "scientist". Law and economics seem to have long since stripped polisci of logic and empiricism, both of which are missing here.

Why two stars (instead of one)? The book is well organized and does provide a framework for thinking about democracy; Dahl just never develops it.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Must-read for those interested in democracy! 20 novembre 2003
Par H Ram - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
The most concise, logical and authoritative text "On Democracy." If you are confused about democracy in theory and/or practice, this book can help you out!
I really liked the way Dahl describes the origins of democratic thought and practices, the necessary conditions for an ideal democracy, the necessary institutions for an actual democracy, pro's and con's of parliamentary and presidential democracies and finally of increasing relevance, the double-edge sworded relationship between market capitalism and democracy.
It's the perfect guide to bring together and give shape to your existing and confused ideas. The only criticism I can offer about the text is its obvious Western bias. Even though modern representative democracy was no doubt shaped in Europe and North America, the author either intentionally or out of ignorance did not give credit and/or mention to the existence of ancient democratic practices in the villages of India and other indigenous peoples of the world.
Nevertheless, a fantastic, though rather dry read. It's money well spent.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Aristotle's Politics" for everyone and for our times 4 août 1999
Par Frank S. Cohen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Tremendous breadth and perspective on the major political dilemmas of our time from a wise scholar of the academy and citizen of the world. Everyone from experts to laypersons can enjoy, understand, and gain from Dahl's insights and characterizations regarding the fundamental political dilemmas of our time. Rarely, does such a combination of scholarly erudition and simple prose ever come along. I am greatful to Robert Dahl for contributing and elevating political discourse here and around the world with this book. Please read it if you are remotely interested in the politics of any country and the politics of the world. You can probably read it in one long sitting.
On another level, this book will forever remain the textual staple of the "Introduction to Comparative Government Courses" I teach.
This review does not mean that I agree with Dahl on all his positions it just means that I think his book is important.
This book is a provocative, informative, prudent, understated, and insightful explanation of the world's post-Soviet political era. (In this respect, Dahl's book is much better than Francis Fukuyama's ridiculously overstated, criminially impractical, triumphantly-and-arrogantly-toned treatise on "the end of the history." And guess what? Dahl's book is much shorter.)
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Well written and accessible work on democracy 10 février 2007
Par Steven A. Peterson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Robert Dahl is one of the most respected figures in the study of politics. He has authored some of the most important works in political science, such as "Who Governs?" This little volume is meant as an accessible work that informed nonacademics can profit by reading. In that endeavor, he is pretty successful.

This volume explores a number of key issues: the origins and development of democracy, the nature of ideal democracy, the nature of actual democracies in practice, and conditions that are more favorable or unfavorable to nurturance of democracy.

The book begins with a very nice history of democracy. He begins with the Mediterranean region, with classical Greece, the Roman Republic, and Italian city-states after 1100 AD. He also considers other possible exemplars, from local assemblies among the Vikings, regional assemblies in Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. Of course, he considers the development of Parliament in England, as well.

He moves on, in the next section to inquire about the ideal form of democracy. He sees five criteria for democracy: effective participation, voting equality, enlightened understanding by citizens, access to the agenda of issues available for decision making, and inclusion of all adults. These are, indeed, imposing criteria, and actual democracies do not necessarily meet these ideals.

His believes that the practical (as opposed to ideal) form of democracy is what he calls "polyarchy." It includes characteristics such as: elected officials; free, fair, and frequent elections; freedom of expression; access to alternative sources of information; associational autonomy; inclusive citizenship.

In the final portion of the book, he notes factors that can threaten democracy, such as intervention by a powerful country not respecting the idea of democracy, the lure of military dictatorship to ensure stability; poverty and lack of material resources. And so on.

All in all, a useful and accessible introduction to democracy. One can quibble with his faith in polyarchy; one can question the simplicity of his discussion of factors nurturing or undermining democracy (his is a very bare bones view of this issue). Nonetheless, a good introduction to the subject.
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