Democracy in Theory and Practice presents an authoritative overview of democratic theory today. Its distinctive approach links theory to practice, emphasizing the wide variety of institutions and procedures through which core democratic principles are implemented and the normative and practical dimensions of the choices to be made among these alternatives.

Designed for courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level, the book features eighteen chapters organized thematically and divided into sections and subsections for easy reference; historical and current examples, citations for specific ideas, annotated references, and further readings throughout enhance the volume's utility for students, scholars, and researchers. Sidebars give biographical sketches of classic theorists and democratic ideas from the US founders and constitutional tradition.

Featured topics discussed include:

  • Majority Rule; Participation; Deliberation; Accountability; Representation; Constitutionalism; Electoral Laws; Parties; Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Functions.
  • The Boundary Problem; The "All-Affected" Principle; Contested Senses of Liberal and Procedural Democracy; The Pros and Cons of Term Limits; Proportional Representation; Referendums; Problems of Democratic Transparency and Reversibility.

Written by a leading authority in the field, Frederick G. Whelan encourages us to think of the many alternative ways of putting democracy into practice and of these alternatives as requiring choices. This diversity means that there is no unique or correct democratic outcome from a given set of preferences, since outcomes are shaped by the methods followed in reaching them.

chapter Chapter 1|26 pages


chapter Chapter 2|41 pages

Democratic Principles

chapter Chapter 3|30 pages

Democracy and Other Values

chapter Chapter 4|32 pages

The Right to Vote

chapter Chapter 5|40 pages

Issues in Democratic Voting

chapter Chapter 6|47 pages

Voting and Decision Methods

chapter Chapter 7|34 pages

Participation and Democracy

chapter Chapter 8|34 pages

Direct and Formative Democracy

chapter Chapter 9|58 pages

Communication and Deliberation

chapter Chapter 10|46 pages

Accountability and Representation

chapter Chapter 11|18 pages

The Representation of Interests

chapter Chapter 12|34 pages


chapter Chapter 13|23 pages

Forms of Democratic Government

chapter Chapter 15|27 pages


chapter Chapter 16|40 pages

Additional Principles of Democratic Governance

chapter Chapter 17|39 pages

The Executive Power

chapter Chapter 18|36 pages

The Judicial Power