Theme: Political Ideas | Content Type: Book review

Review: Degenerations of Democracy, by Craig Calhoun, Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar and Charles Taylor

Gianfranco Pasquino


Hansjorg Keller

| 1 min read

In the past ten years or so, many scholars have devoted their time and energies to decrying the crisis of democracy: backsliding, recession, regression, authoritarianism, demise and, inevitably, death. While some, at least, of the interpretations and evaluations are questionable, my major criticism is that too many scholars appear to be unable to distinguish between the crisis of the democratic ideal and the problems, challenges and difficulties in the functioning of really existing democracies. Craig Calhoun (Arizona State University), Dilip Gaonkar (Northwestern University), and Charles Taylor (McGill University), do not escape from this type of confusion. Their choice is to label degenerations all the problems democracy and contemporary democratic regimes have to face. Unfortunately, they never really provide a definition of what they mean by democracy. To some extent they appear to stand by ‘liberal democratic theorists’ who assert the existence of a liberal package with some republican and some social-democratic variations. The outcome is too important not to be quoted extensively.

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  • Gianfranco Pasquino

    Gianfranco Pasquino

    Gianfranco Pasquino is an Italian political scientist. Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Bologna and Senior Adjunct Professor at SAIS-Europe.

    Articles by Gianfranco Pasquino