Advanced Democracies and the New Politics

The popular pressures for reforms of the democratic process have mounted across the OECD nations over the past generation. In response, democratic institutions are changing, evolving, expanding in ways that may alter the structure of the democratic process. These changes include reforms of representative democracy proceses, the expansion of direct democracy, and the introduction of new forms of advocacy democracy. Indeed, some observers claim that we are witnessing the most fundamental transformation of the democratic process since the creation of mass democracy in the early 20th Century. This essay first summarizes the institutional reforms that are occurring in advanced industrial democracies. Given these changes, we consider how each of the three modes fulfills Dahl's criteria for democracy, and how the shifting patterns of democratic access are transforming the relationship between citizens and their political system. This essay is adapted from their edited volume, Democracy Transformed? Expanding Political Opportunities in Advanced Industrial Democracies (Oxford University Press, 2003).