Social Movements, Political Parties, and Democratic Theory
New left-libertarian social movements invoke an ancient communitarian democratic theory against the contemporary practice of competitive elite democracy. Two explanations for this phenomenon are explored. First, in a cyclical model, challenges to representative democracy are viewed as recurring expressions of dissatisfaction with representative institutions. Second, in a structural differentiation model, the practices of left-libertarian movements trigger a pluralization of political decision modes in advanced capitalist democracies, even if such participatory innovations fall short of the direct democratic ideal expressed by movement activists. Although the cyclical model has some merit, on the whole, the structural differentiation model provides an analytically more powerful explanation of recent social movement activity. © 1993, SAGE Periodicals Press. All rights reserved.
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