Democracy and Participation

  • Albert Weale
Part of the Studies in Social Policy book series


In the discussion of principles of social policy so far, we have been concerned for the most part with what decisions ought to be made rather than with how decisions ought to be made. This one-sided emphasis now needs to be rectified for a number of reasons. The contractarian theory of social choice leaves a considerable amount of indeterminacy in the specification of the social welfare objective at which the government is to aim. Although it prescribes the form that such an objective should take, namely that it should be a weighted sum of individual welfares, it does not prescribe how the weights are to be fixed. The essential indeterminacy in the attitudes towards risk of the contracting parties behind the veil-of-ignorance means that no particular level of equality can be justified by contractarian considerations alone. That task is left to the democratic process and to those persons living this side of the veil-of-ignorance. Moreover, this aspect of the contractarian theory needs to be understood in the context of our prior result about the importance of maintaining the conditions for autonomous development. A second reason why an interest in democratic control is important in our theory is that this theory presupposes that persons living in a political community are capable of choice and deliberation. A theory of democracy is therefore necessary to show how those capacities can be given effect within communities.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For a review of these, and a number of other arguments, see J. Roland Pennock, Democratic Political Theory (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979) ch. 4.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. Wollheim, ‘A Paradox in the Theory of Democracy’ in P. Laslett and W. G. Runciman (eds), Philosophy, Politics and Society, series 2 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1962) pp. 71–87.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Compare Amy Gutman, Liberal Equality (Cambridge University Press, 1980) p. 177.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The best account of this form of democracy is still to be found in Joseph Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (London: Allen & Unwin, 1942, 4th edn 1954), who defines this form of democracy as ‘that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote’ (p. 269).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Compare Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, pp. 294–5.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    G. D. H. Cole, Guild Socialism Re-Stated (London: Leonard Parsons, 1920) pp. 32–3.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    On Health Systems Agencies see A. A. Atkinson and R. M. Grimes, ‘Health Planning in the United States: An Old Idea with New Significance’, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, I 3 (1976) pp. 295–318,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. and James A. Morone and Theodore R. Marmor, ‘Representing Consumer Interests: The Case of American Health Planning’, Ethics, LXLI 3 (1981) pp. 431–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Department of Education and Science and Welsh Office, A New Partnership for Our Schools. Report of the Committee of Enquiry under The Chairmanship of Mr Tom Taylor, CBE (London: HMSO, 1977).Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    For the Social and Economic Council, see Arend Lijphart, The Politics of Accommodation — Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968) pp. 112–15.Google Scholar
  12. For an account of consociational democracies in general, see Arend Lijphart, Democracy in Plural Societies (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1977).Google Scholar
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    Lijphart, The Politics of Accommodation, pp. 109–12, and Daalder, ‘The Netherlands: Opposition in a Segmented Society’, p. 214.Google Scholar
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    Here, and in the account of HSAs, I follow Morone and Marmor, ‘Representing Consumer Interests: The Case of American Health Planning’.Google Scholar
  21. 16.
    Frances Svensson, ‘Liberal Democracy and Group Rights: The Legacy of Individualism and Its Impact on American Indian Tribes’, Political Studies, XXVII 3 (1979) pp. 421–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Paul E. Peterson, ‘Forms of Representation: Participation of the Poor in the Community Action Program’, American Political Science Review, LXIV 2 (1970) pp. 491–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    L. J. Sharpe, ‘American Democracy Reconsidered. Part II’, British Journal of Political Science, III 2 (1973) pp. 129–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 19.
    The assumption of trust is a large one to grant, however. One study of citizen attitudes towards public services in ten cities in the United States showed a majority thinking that there was at least some illegal activity among local officials, and a majority in some cities thought there was an even higher level of illegal activity. See F. J. Fowler Jr, Citizen Attitudes Towards Local Government Services and Taxes (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1974) pp. 185–9.Google Scholar
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    J. Rothenberg, The Measurement of Social Welfare (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1961) pp. 316–23.Google Scholar
  26. 21.
    Rudolf Klein, ‘The Case for Elitism: Public Opinion and Public Policy’, Political Quarterly, XLV 4 (1974) pp. 406–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 22.
    Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice and Loyalty (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  28. Tiebout presents the standard account of how people can vote with their feet to obtain the level of public services they want: C. M. Tiebout, ‘A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures’, Journal of Political Economy, LXIV (1956) pp. 416–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. I follow Mueller in his criticism of this model: D. C. Mueller, Public Choice (Cambridge University Press, 1979) ch. 7.Google Scholar
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    See Gerald Hoinville and Gillian Courtenay, Measuring Consumer Priorities, Methodological Working Paper No. 15 (London: Social and Community Planning Research, 1978).Google Scholar
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    Morone and Marmor, ‘Representing Consumer Interests: The Case of American Health Planning’, pp. 443–4.Google Scholar
  32. 25.
    Here and in the next paragraph I drew on material in Albert Weale, ‘Representation, Individualism and Collectivism’, Ethics, LXLI 3 (1981) pp. 457–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 26.
    Department of Education and Science, A New Partnership for Our Schools.Google Scholar
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    T. G. Maguire, ‘Budget-Maximizing Governmental Agencies: An Empirical Test’, Public Choice, XXXVI 2 (1981) pp. 313–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 28.
    For a clear discussion of its various senses, see Raymond Plant, Community and Ideology (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974).Google Scholar
  36. 29.
    Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government in England and Wales, vol. 3, p. 161.Google Scholar
  37. 30.
    See Hugh Butcher, Patricia Collis, Andrew Glen and Patrick Sills, Community Groups in Action (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980).Google Scholar
  38. 31.
    Brian Abel-Smith, Value for Money in Health Services (London: Heinemann, 1976) p. 161.Google Scholar
  39. 32.
    Compare Geraint Parry, ‘The Idea of Political Participation’ in Geraint Parry (ed.), Participation in Politics (Manchester University Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  40. 33.
    Douglas Yates, Neighbourhood Democracy (Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1973).Google Scholar
  41. 34.
    See Owen M. Fiss, ‘School Desegregation: The Uncertain Path of the Law’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, IV 1 (1974) pp. 3–39.Google Scholar
  42. 35.
    Klein and Lewis, The Politics of Consumer Representation.Google Scholar
  43. 36.
    Compare Bleddyn Davies, Social Needs and Resources in Local Services (London: Joseph, 1968).Google Scholar
  44. 37.
    Compare Alan Day’s Note of Reservation in Local Government Finance, Report of the Committee of Inquiry (Layfield Committee) (London: HMSO, 1976) Cmnd 6453, pp. 302–14.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Albert Weale 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert Weale
    • 1
  1. 1.Social Policy Research UnitUniversity of YorkUK

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