Democracy in Plural Societies

A Comparative Exploration

Arend Lijphart

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September 10, 1980
260 pages, 5 1/2 x 8.5
ISBN: 9780300024944
Paper

While it may be difficult to achieve and maintain stable democratic governments in countries with deep religious, ideological, linguistic, cultural, or ethnic cleavages, Lijphart argues that it is not at all impossible. Through the analysis of political systems in six continents, he demonstrates that what he calls consociational democracy can be successful in severely divided or plural societies.
“Here, once again, Arend Lijphart is directing our attention to matters which will surely engage much of the attention of students of comparative politics in the next decade.” G. Bingham Powell, Jr., American Political Science Review
“A study which can speak to such a wide audience in political science deserves a warm welcome from the profession.” Government and Opposition
“A copybook example of the comparative method of political analysis, as well as indispensable reading for all who have an interest in the nature and prospects of representative democracy, whether in Europe or beyond.”—The Times Higher Education Supplement
“This well-written work, containing a wealth of information on politics of many diverse nations, is highly recommended.”—Library Journal

"Scholars and students of comparative politics should find this an interesting and useful synthesis of work done in the study of democratic pluralism."—William J. Meyer, Perspective

"Lijphart, an optimist concerning the spread of democracy to the nations of the Third World, sets forth in this wide-ranging study the theory of consociational democracy to accomplish that goal. . . . This will-written work, containing a wealth of information on politics of many diverse nations is highly recommended for academic libraries."—Library Journal

"Lijphart (University of Leiden) explores the functioning of democracy in countries with deep religious, ideological, linguistic, cultural, and ethnic cleavages and, contrary to conventional wisdom, commends consociational democracy as the suitable model to plural societies and to severely segmented societies of the Third World. . . . With a penetrating examination of several exemplary successes and a few failures of consociational democracy in Western and non-Western societies. Lijphart concludes that partition may be the only solution if consociational democracy should prove unworkable. This comparative study is a significant contribution to the literature and is recommended for graduate libraries."—Choice

"Democracy in Plural Societies is a useful addition to the literature on democratic conflict regulation. . . . Here, once again, Arend Lijphart is directing our attention to matters which will surely engage much of the attention of students of comparative politics in the next decade."—G. Bingham Powell, Jr., American Political Science Review

"Indispensible reading for all who have an interest in the nature and prospects of representative democracy, whether in Europe or beyond. For all its lucidity, its principal merit is the scope and logic of the argument, not the practical conclusions, and nobody should embark on it unless they subscribe to the principal that it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive."—S.E. Finer, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"One of the great virtues of Democracy in Plural Societies is that it asks as many questions about democratic devices as it answers. It draws evidence from an impressive range of countries, from Belgium to Malaysia, from Cyprus to Nigeria. Throughout it is pervaded by a deep seriousness, combining scholarship with commitment in a way which will be appreciated by students of Europe and of the Third World, by normative theorists and empirical theorists. A study which can still speak to such a wide audience in political science deserves a warm welcome from the profession."—Government & Opposition

Winner of the Ethnic and Cultural Pluralism Award in 1978 given by the American Political Science Association
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