Can the Public Govern in a Democracy? Term Paper by Poli Sci Guy

Can the Public Govern in a Democracy?
This paper explores whether or not the general public is capable and qualified to govern in a participatory democracy.
# 99661 | 5,970 words | 15 sources | MLA | 2007 | US
Published on Nov 20, 2007 in Political Science (Political Theory) , Political Science (General)

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The paper provides an overview of scholarly research on the debate of whether the public is qualified to govern. The paper focuses on four main areas concerning whether the public is capable of governing. These are (1) a lack of political knowledge by the general population; (2) response instability, lack of a coherent ideology and quality of public opinion; (3) individuals governing as a collective unit; and (4) the political environment and citizen competence.

Lack of Political Knowledge
Response Instability, Lack of a Coherent Ideology and Quality of Public Opinion
Can the Collective Public Govern?
The Political Environment and Citizen Competence

From the Paper:

"Public opinion claims to be the voice of the people, a clear and direct utterance from the citizenry. It is indispensable to the legitimacy of all governments which claim to draw their power from the "consent of the governed," and the very idea of democracy requires the people to take part in political discussion and decision making. In theory, a democracy works best when the people actively attend to public affairs, with their opinions soundly reasoned and logically consistent. However, there is a tension at the core of self-rule and public opinion. On one hand lies the theoretical ideal to be played by the citizenry, and on the other, the reality that the public does not match up to these ideals. Therefore, in a governmental system founded on the principle of "rule by the people," the question is: are the people capable of governing in a participatory democracy?"

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Barber, Benjamin. Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age. California: University of California Press Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1984.
  • Blais, Andre, et al. "Do People Have Feelings Toward Leaders About Whom They Say They Know Nothing?" Public Opinion Quarterly 65 (2002), 452-463.
  • Blumberg, Paul. Industrial Democracy: the Sociology of Participation London: Constable, 1968.
  • Converse, Philip E. The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics. Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. (1964).
  • Delli Carpini, Michael X. In Search of the Informed Citizen: What Americans Know About Politics and Why It Matters. The Transformation of Civic Life Conference, 12-13 November 1999. Nashville, Tennessee: Middle Tennessee State University.

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Can the Public Govern in a Democracy? (2007, November 20) Retrieved September 29, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Can the Public Govern in a Democracy?" 20 November 2007. Web. 29 September. 2020. <>