An Overdue Appraisal: The Need to Rethink Democracy Theory

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The paper is rooted in democratisation and transformation theory as it attempts to explore the issues surrounding democracy theory and the need for a review of the said theory. In a non-Western context, democracy has had various failures, as states struggle with issues of governance, stability and transformation. The central purpose of democracy studies is to determine what will ensure stability and deepen democracy in new or emerging democracies. Democracy theory and its extended family centre on political stability and identify conditions that may lead to political instability as well as identify those conditions that have to present or crafted in order to obtain political stability. The paper will argue that there is a need to review theory in order to determine primary themes as well as any contributions and/or shortcomings these theories may have in the intellectual quest to fully theorise democracy and the processes of state transformation specifically at elite and mass level. Thus, the paper will explore the need to re-evaluate theory in order to obtain an inclusive interpretation of reality. This is necessary given that each state will have different contextual problems there seems to be a need to find an internationalist interpretation in democracy theory.


Keywords: Democracy Theory, Democratisation, Third World
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
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Joleen Steyn-Kotze

Lecturer, Department of Political and Governmental Sciences School of Governmental and Social Sciences, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Joleen Steyn-Kotze is a lecturer of Political Science at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She completed her tertiary education at the University of Port Elizabeth (now NMMU) and obtained a B.A. (2000) and M.Phil South African Politics and Political Economy (2002). She is presently registered for her D.Litt et Phil at the University of South Africa. The focus of her doctoral research is meta-theoretical analysis and appraisals of democracy theory. Ms. Steyn-Kotze has been involved in tertiary education since 2002 at both an undergraduate level as well as post-graduate level. She was appointed as the undergraduate programme leader in Political Science in 2007. Teaching responsibilities include African politics, political theory, international relations, South African politics, and political economy. She was invited to present various papers for the Independent Electoral Commission – Eastern Cape on tolerance and the role of political parties as well as the state of the South African democracy as part of the NMMU community outreach initiative. She had done various analysis for newspapers as well as television news. Ms. Steyn-Kotze has a wide range of conference papers as well as publications in peer-reviewed journals. Her areas of expertise include political theory, specifically democracy and democratic consolidation theory, African politics, tolerance and inter-party conflict, and South African political development. She is involved extensively in programme development at a post-graduate level as well as facilitating research excellence in the discipline of Political Science.

Ref: I08P0433