The Value of Democracy

Rethinking the Value of Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (The Theories, Concepts and Practices of Democracy)


Rethinking the Value of Democracy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

Democracy’s reputation as delivering peace and development while controlling corruption is an important source of its own legitimacy. Yet, as this book acutely demonstrates, the arguments tend to be normatively driven interventions in ideologically charged policy debates. It is argued that we need neither a utopian framing of democracy as delivering all ‘good things’ in politics nor a cynical one that emphasizes only the ‘dangerous underbelly’ of this form of government.


“Insightful, illuminating – with some startling conclusions – this is a wonderfully readable book that offers original critiques of democracy studies. The book has a realistic take on democracy’s value without resorting to false optimism or fatalistic despair. It makes a strong and refreshing case for taking the value of democracy seriously in these times of imminent threats to democracy. This important book takes the scholarly debate forward in a nuanced way.” (Arend Lijphart, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, UC San Diego, USA)

“Timely and important, this book tackles the key question of whether democracy is ‘worth it’. It challenges standard assumptions and its conclusion makes sobering reading. The book still calls on scholars not to abandon democracy, however, but to pursue further why and how democracy matters and to whom. A really brave book, with crucial findings, that, at the same time, sets out an agenda for future research.” (Jean Grugel, Professor of Development Politics, University of York, UK)

“Breaking new ground in democracy studies, this thoughtful book shows that the instrumental value of democracy has frequently been overstated. Connecting findings from political science, sociology and economics, it makes the compelling case for cross-fertilization between disciplines. Not just the empirical findings are admirably clear, but also the normative insights are interesting and inspiring. This comprehensive study will leave democracy scholars with much to ponder.” (Brigitte Geißel, Professor and Director of the Research Unit ‘Democratic Innovations’, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)