Hierarchy and democracy

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Albert Somit, Rudolf Widenmann
Southern Illinois University Press, 1991 - Political Science - 191 pages
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An international gathering of scholars examines democratic theory in the light of recent discoveries by biologists, ethologists, and psychologists.

In this book contributors do not attempt to find a single solution to the theoretical problem of the existence of "elites" in a democratic system, but to make a serious approach to examining various aspects of that problem. Albert Somit raises the political-philosophical problem of the contradiction between the existence of elites and democratic concepts. Benson E. Ginsburg views the heritage of the biological nature of our own species, while Steven A. Peterson analyzes whether dominance behavior and political hierarchies may make democracy an unattainable ideal. James N. Schubert explores the effects of dominance hierarchy in small groups, and Ulrich Müller analyzes the dynamic stability conditions for populations with an egalitarian versus a despotic distribution of power and resources. Jean A. Laponce draws attention to the phenomenon that our "up-down" mental structure (relating people, events, and thoughts) is not neutral, and Odelia Funke, discussing concepts of anarchy and various attempts to successfully live in an anarchistic society, asks whether dominance is an inevitable part of human society. Finally, John C. Wahlke criticizes the rational-choice theory and its attempt to explain voting—the essential element of democracy—arguing that to understand voting a realistic conception of individual choice processes is necessary.

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About the author (1991)

Albert Somit is Distinguished Service Professor at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and professor emeritus at State University of New York at Buffalo.

Rudolf Wildenmann is editor of the Studies on Social Development series of Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden.

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