Pages: 192
Series: Beginner's Guides
Imprint: Oneworld
Illustrations: Illustrations


A Beginner's Guide

David Beetham

Writing for the activist, the student, and the simply curious, David Beetham provides a shrewd exploration of democracy in today's world and asks: is it still worth fighting for?

The Book

As the U.S. strives to establish democracy in Iraq and contemplates its own democratic system in the wake of a series of controversial presidential elections, David Beetham offers new insights into democracy. He looks at real examples such as the role of the citizen and how large corporations affect democracy as well as contemplating the future of democracy in the developed and developing worlds.

Additional Information

Series Beginner's Guides
Pages 192
Imprint Oneworld
Illustrations Illustrations


About the Author

David Beetham is Professor Emeritus of Politics at the University of Leeds, a Fellow of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, and Associate Director of the UK Democratic Audit. He is the author and editor of numerous books and papers, including Political Power and Democratic Control in Britain (with Stuart Weir, 1999). He has travelled internationally in his capacity as consultant on democracy assessment, and is a leading contributor to the field of human rights.


"Much more than an excellent introduction to 'democracy'. An informative, engaging, and inspiring book that goes beyond what one would expect in a 'beginner's' guide, without making itself inaccessible."

- Political Studies

Table of Contents


Introduction: What is Democracy?


Democratic Ideas at Work in Practice

Citizen rights

Institutions of representative and accountable government

The associational life of civil society


Sources of Disillusion in the ‘Old' Democracies

Decline in government autonomy

Decline in government capacity

Declining credibility


Success and Setback in the New and Emergent Democracies

Legacies of transition

Problems of consolidating and deepening democracy






Globalising Democracy

Democracy promotion

Democratising global institutions

Democracy and the European Union


Reviving Democracy: New Forms of Participation

Participation in government

Co-decision in devolved government

Deliberative opinion polls and citizens' juries

Referenda and citizens' initiatives

Digital democracy


Conclusion: Getting Active

Glossary of key terms

List of democracy and human rights organisations and websites