1. Introduction; 2. Self-government of the people; 3. A brief history of representative institutions; 4. Equality; 5. Choice and participation; 6. Agency; 7. Liberty; 8. Democracy as an implementation of self-government in our times.
The book analyzes the sources of widespread dissatisfaction with democracies around the world and identifies directions for feasible reforms.
Adam Przeworski is the Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Politics at New York University. Previously, he was the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He is the author of thirteen books and numerous articles. His recent publications include Democracy and Development, co-authored with Michael R. Alvarez, Jose Antonio Cheibub and Fernando Limongi (2000), Democracy and the Rule of Law, co-edited with Jose Maria Maravall (2003), and States and Markets (2003). He is the recipient of the 2001 Woodrow Wilson Prize.
"Adam Przeworski's powerful and incisive book is the best informed
and most impressive summary of what we have learnt in recent
decades about the character and political significance of democracy
in its current forms across the world and the forces which have
carried it so far. It combines the normative force and generosity
of a vivid egalitarianism and the clarity and frankness of the
soberest realism with an acutely sensitive and impressively
cosmopolitan political judgment. Anyone who wishes to understand
what democracy now means or to judge what its prospects are in
future decades would be well advised to start off now from
Democracy and the Limits of Self-Government." -John Dunn,
University of Cambridge
"This book is a little gem, which summarizes the author's extensive knowledge of topics of crucial importance for all those interested in democracy: self-government, liberty, equality, agency, participation. The reader will find an approach carefully informed by the most advanced literature in the social sciences, including economics, political philosophy, political science, history and law, disciplines that Adam Przeworski handles with extraordinary expertise. The book is, most of all, a brilliant collection of important questions, which the author poses to us-and to himself-in his attempt to understand the limits and possibilities of democratic reform." -Roberto Gargarella, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Cientificas y Tecnicas
"Prezworski's book is a sobering account of the limits of democracy; yet it is sober without being cynical. An amazingly informed analytical description with a normative punch, the book tells us what democracy really is, and what we are entitled to hope for from it. Far from simply assuming what democracy should be, Przeworski's recommendations are guided by his acute sense of what democracy really is. This is an immensely important contribution." -Avishai Margalit, Institute for Advanced Study
"If you have time to read one book about democracy, and only one, this should be it. It contains an engaging synthesis of arguments that Adam Przeworski has been developing for decades, leavened by an astonishing wealth of historical and contemporary data. Przeworski supplies a hardheaded defense of democracy as the best system yet devised to prevent politics from degenerating into civil war. He also explains why many democracies could do better at managing collective self government so as to strengthen freedom and choice, and he offers realistic strategies for reform. This is applied political theory at its best." -Ian Shapiro, Yale University, author of The Real World of Democratic Theory