Synopses & Reviews
Waves of Democracy looks at two centuries of history of democratization as a series of multicontinental episodes in which social movements and elite power holders in many countries converged to reorganize political systems. Democracy is defined and redefined in these episodes. John Markoff examines several ways in which governing elites of national states mimic each other and ways in which social movements and elites interact. There is no other book written for undergraduates that looks at democracy over such a broad sweep of time and across so many countries and cultures.
Instead of presenting democracy as an ideal political system that humans only imperfectly realize, John Markoff conceptualizes democracy as something continually being reinvented. Instead of reducing democracy to well-defined and routine practices and institutions such as elections and parliaments, Markoff shows how political movements have repeatedly challenged and remade existing institutions. After reviewing two centuries of political conflict, he concludes with a thoughtful and exciting discussion on what democracy means today and what its future might be.