Popular Rule in Schumpeter's Democracy

Political Studies 64 (4):1071-1087 (2016)
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In this article, it is argued that existing democracies might establish popular rule even if Joseph Schumpeter’s notoriously unflattering picture of ordinary citizens is accurate. Some degree of popular rule is in principle compatible with apathetic, ignorant and suggestible citizens, contrary to what Schumpeter and others have maintained. The people may have control over policy, and their control may constitute popular rule, even if citizens lack definite policy opinions and even if their opinions result in part from elites’ efforts to manipulate these opinions. Thus, even a purely descriptive, ‘realist’ account of democracy of the kind that Schumpeter professed to offer may need to concede that there is no democracy without some degree of popular rule.

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Sean Ingham
University of California, San Diego


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