Liberal democracies intermittently drift or plunge headlong into protracted periods of anxiety, and with cause. Systematic disenfranchisement, the debasement of moral and civic obligations, and the pervasive threat of waste and corruption all have the potential to stoke fear—not to mention resentment, disillusionment, and rage. But there is another—and, in my view, more foundational—cause of […]
Can representative democracies be strengthened to govern more effectively? The SSRC’s Anxieties of Democracy program is motivated by a concern about whether the core institutions of established democracies can capably address large problems in the public interest. The Inaugural Democracy Papers were produced as part of the planning process for the Anxieties of Democracy program at the Social Science Research Council. The authors are leading scholars of democracy, both in the United States and abroad. Several of the authors are now members of Anxieties of Democracy working groups and advisory committee.
If you enjoy these essays, you may also like the more recent Democracy Papers collection published on Items. The Democracy Papers collection features essays that summarize and highlight research presented at workshops and conferences affiliated with the Anxieties of Democracy program.
Anxiety about democracy: Why now? Anxiety is rising among mass publics and analysts of governance about whether democratic governments can cope with the policy problems now facing them (Schäfer and Streeck 2013; Berggruen and Gardels 2013). Trust in American government is at a low ebb and more than two thirds of voters in many parts […]
In the following pages I briefly reflect on three related aspects of political inequality: political parties, inequality of political influence, and electoral reform. I also point to three areas of particular promise for future research on the challenges facing American democracy: the U.S. states, social movements, and campaign finance regulations. Parties and polarization The two […]
A focus on “Anxieties of Democracy” at this time raises a paradox. For all the talk of the rise of state capitalism, the challenge from China, and the ineffectiveness of democratic governance, “real existing” alternatives to democracy are scarce. Autocracies now constitute a smaller share of regimes than ever before. Of the 165 countries with […]