"Polyarchy" by Robert A. Dahl

Polyarchy Participation and Opposition Robert A. Dahl

Publication date:
10 Sep 1972
Yale University Press
267 pages: 203 x 127mm
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Amidst all the emotional uproar about democracy and the widespread talk of revolution comes this clear call to reason—a mind-stretching book that equips the young and the old suddenly to see an ageless problem of society in a new and exciting way. Everything Dahl says can be applied in a fascinating way to the governing of any human enterprise involving more than one person—whether it is a nation-state, a political party, a business firm, or a university.

?In this book, Professor Dahl carries forward his logico-empirical studies of the conditions under which political systems change or are transformed from one type to another. . . . The focus here is upon the conditions under which systems he designates as closed hegemonies, inclusive hegemonies, or competitive oligarchies are likely to develop into polyarchies, or intermediate variations thereof? To this reviewer, the present book enhances Professor Dahl?s status as political diagnostician and analyst.  It exemplifies beautifully the function of theory in disentangling the elements of a problem and understanding the relations between them, as distinct from constructing general, logically consistent theories that do not explain variations and deviant cases in the real world, or devising ?practical? solutions without knowing whether or why they work.  Dahl uses concepts to reveal and enlighten us as to hidden relationships in the data.? ?Avery Leiserson, The Annals

"Dahl extends his inquiry inot pluralistic social orders to the conditions favorable for a competitive political regime, or polyarchy. . . . This is good Dahl, it is both political theory and comparative government, and the appendices add valuable data . . . . It belongs in every library collection, and it might have use as a supplementary text."?Choice

"A tightly woven explanation of the conditions under which cultures that do not tolerate political opposition may be transformed into societies that do. The author is at his empirical best in reaching his conclusions."?Foreign Affairs

"His purpose is primarily analytical rather than presciptive, and his analysis is lucid, perceptive, and thorough."?Times Literary Supplement