Political participation and three theories of democracy: A research inventory and agenda


Jan Teorell, Department of Political Science, Lund University, Box 52, S-22100 Lund, Sweden. Sweden. E-mail: jan.teorell@svet.lu.se


Abstract.  This article proposes an agenda for political participation research aimed at providing empirical answers to questions derived from normative political theory. Based on a threefold distinction between responsive, participatory and deliberative models of democracy, the article first distinguishes three conceptions of political participation: as influencing attempts, as direct decision making, and as political discussion. Second, it is argued that each of the three models is associated with different desired consequences of political participation: equal protection of interests, self-development and subjective legitimacy. Third, a procedural standard is identified from which to evaluate the mechanism generating the three types of participation. By analogy with theories of distributive justice, this mechanism should be sensitive to incentives but insensitive to resources. The empirical questions thus implied are finally drawn together into an integrated agenda for future participation studies.