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Representative Democracy – Principles and Genealogy - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Representative Democracy: Principles and Genealogy

Nadia Urbinati


It is usually held that representative government is not strictly democratic, since it does not allow the people themselves to directly make decisions. But here, taking as its guide Thomas Paine's subversive view that “Athens, by representation, would have surpassed her own democracy,” this book challenges this accepted wisdom, arguing that political representation deserves to be regarded as a fully legitimate mode of democratic decision making—and not just a pragmatic second choice when direct democracy is not possible. As the author shows, the idea that representation is incompatible with de ... More

Keywords: representative government, Thomas Paine, Athens, political representation, direct democracy, democratic decision making, sovereignty, influence, power, political judgment

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2006 Print ISBN-13: 9780226842783
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226842806.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Nadia Urbinati, author