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Toward Leader Democracy

Toward Leader Democracy

By Jan Pakulski & András Körösényi

Key Issues in Modern Sociology

‘Toward Leader Democracy’ investigates how today’s liberal democratic regimes are increasingly moving toward a pronounced focus on political leaders and their image, and explores the mechanics, evolution and implications of this phenomenon.

Hardback, 194 Pages

ISBN:9780857283887

January 2012

£70.00, $115.00

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
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About This Book

In today’s liberal democracies, does the political process focus on the people, or on the political leaders representing them? In ‘Toward Leader Democracy’, Jan Pakulski and András Körösényi argue that there is a trend toward an increasingly pronounced focus on political leaders, or ‘leader democracy’, which is reinforced by the prominence of electronic media, the decline of major parties, the centrality of electoral competitions, and the frequently aggressive actions taken by our political elites. This trend is compatible with predictions made by elite theorists such as Max Weber and Joseph Schumpeter, and contradicts the notion of a change towards a democracy that is more ‘direct’, ‘participatory’ and ‘deliberative’. In spite of the concerns voiced by some critics, the model of ‘leader democracy’ is fulfilling the key normative criteria and expectations of democratic rule.

‘Toward Leader Democracy’ explains the shape and the workings of this new form of political action – that is, how it is motivated by the political will, determination and commitment of top politicians, and how it is exercised through mass elite persuasion that actively shapes the preferences of voters so as to give meaning to political processes. Competitive mass-mediated elections are the key elements of this process, providing voters with a sense of dignity by giving them the status of ‘final arbiter’ in leadership contests. As the text reveals, this marks a definite evolution within the world’s ‘advanced democracies’: democratic representation is today realized increasingly through active political leadership, as opposed to the former practices of statistically ‘mirroring’ constituencies, or the deliberative self-adjustment of the executive in accordance with citizen preferences.

Reviews

‘Pakulski and Körösényi highlight the utter centrality but frequently evanescent fate of celebrity-like leaders in today’s democracies. By updating and applying the theory of leader democracy set forth by Weber and Schumpeter, the book is a lasting contribution to understanding, like it or not, democracy’s top-down character.’ —John Higley, Chair of the IPSA Research Committee on Political Elites


‘This volume criticises in lively fashion current theories of the decline of participatory democracy, as well as “post-democratic” interpretations of contemporary politics, and will be a useful, engaging, provocative and controversial addition to reading on democracy, elites and contemporary politics.’ —Dr David Lane, Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge


‘Skilfully combining empirical and normative analysis, Körösényi and Pakulski offer a lively and compelling defence of so-called leader democracy. Those who advocate other models of democracy (deliberative, participatory, pluralist) will not be able to ignore the bold challenge posed by “Toward Leader Democracy”.’ —Professor Joseph Femia, University of Liverpool

Author Information

Jan Pakulski is Professor of Sociology at the University of Tasmania in Australia.

András Körösényi is Professor of Political Science at Corvinus University in Budapest, and is Director of the Institute for Political Science at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Series

Key Issues in Modern Sociology

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures; Preface; 1. The New ‘New Politics’; 2. Theoretical Anticipations; 3. The Leader-centric Trends; 4. ‘Leader Democracy’ and Its Rivals; 5. The Future of (Leader) Democracy; 6. The Democratic Cycles; References; Index

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