The Many Names of Democracy

This collaborative research project aims to capture and map the existing conceptions of democracy present in the broad and multifaceted literature of democracy studies. We pursue this project by reviewing major texts in the field and by deploying targeted research in a number of scholarly databases. Following the claims made by key democratic theorists like David Held, David Collier, Steven Levitsky, and Wolfgang Merkel about the presence of ‘many’ or ‘hundreds of adjectives of democracy’, we have identified so far an initial list of 507 different names that are used to define the idea of democracy. The project’s long-term objective is to provide a systematic encyclopedic treatment of each of these names.

View the Democratic Theories Database

#aganaktismenoi Syntagma Square Athens June 1st 2011” | Image Credit: Odysseas Gp (June 2011)


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Democracy with Adjectives‘. RealDemocracyNow interview with Assistant Professor Jean-Paul Gagnon on his work into democracy’s many, and diverse meanings. 23 April 2017

Democracy’s Descriptive Pluralism‘ presented at The Australian Sociological Association’s Annual Conference. Concurrent Session 5: ‘Social Theory/Sociology & Activism’. Thursday 1 December, 1-3 pm.

Democracy’s Adjective Pluralism‘ presented at the Sydney Democracy Network’s Lunchtime Seminar Series. 3 November, 2016.

Democracy – what it is, what is it not‘ presented at the IGPA Graduate Research Forum. Wednesday, 12 October, 2016.

One Thousand Theories of Democracy‘ presented at the Australian Political Studies Association’s Annual Conference. Panel 79: ‘Comparative Politics: Theorising and Measuring Democracy’. Wednesday, 28 September, 2016.