Key Concepts


Michael Saward


This new textbook invites readers to explore their own responses to debates about democracy's meaning. It provides tools for thinking actively about democracy as a practice, an ideal, and a site of contestation. Open-minded and written with genuine clarity for an undergraduate audience, Saward's book avoids providing easy answers to democracy's dilemmas. Instead, it offers to students the diverse approaches to democracy, showing how the key narratives of contemporary political life have been created and adapted.

Working through a series of compelling real and hypothetical cases, twentieth-century narratives of democracy and their roots, and major new challenges such as globalization and environmentalism, the book makes the ideal starting point both for students already curious and those needing to be enticed and provoked. It concludes with an extraordinary snapshot and appraisal of the new theories of democracy that are making waves in the twenty-first century, and invites informed speculation on the shape of the democracy of the future. Democracy includes an extensive glossary of types of democracy, as well as a guide to further reading.

About the Author

Michael Saward is Professor in Politics at the Open University.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Is this Democracy?
  • 2. Narrating Democracy I
  • 3. Narrating Democracy II
  • 4. Five Challenges
  • 5. Reinventing Democracy
  • Conclusion
  • Glossary: Concepts of Democracy
  • A Guide to Further Reading
  • Notes
  • Bibliography



“Saward's short book is a refreshing account of the broad concerns of democracy which manages to be critical without being pessimistic. It will stimulate students into asking questions rather than trying to provide answers. It provides general background reading for anyone interested in democratic theory, presenting different routes for students to pursue further study.”

— Keith Dowding, London School of Economics and Political Science

Available titles

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  1. Barbara Adam, Time
  2. Alan Aldridge, Consumption
  3. Alan Aldridge, The Market
  4. Jakob Arnoldi, Risk
  5. Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer, Disability
  6. Darin Barney, Network Society
  7. Mildred Blaxter, Health 2nd edition
  8. Harriet Bradley, Gender
  9. Harry Brighouse, Justice
  10. Mónica Brito Vieira and David Runciman, Representation
  11. Steve Bruce, Fundamentalism 2nd Edition
  12. Busfield, Mental Illness
  13. Margaret Canovan, The People
  14. Alejandro Colás, Empire
  15. Mary Daly, Welfare
  16. Anthony Elliott, Concepts of the Self 2nd Edition
  17. Steve Fenton, Ethnicity 2nd edition
  18. Katrin Flikschuh, Freedom
  19. Michael Freeman, Human Rights 2nd Edition
  20. Russell Hardin, Trust
  21. Geoffrey Ingham, Capitalism
  22. Fred Inglis, Culture
  23. Robert Jackson, Sovereignty
  24. Jennifer Jackson Preece, Minority Rights
  25. Gill Jones, Youth
  26. Paul Kelly, Liberalism
  27. Anne Mette Kjær, Governance
  28. Ruth Lister, Poverty
  29. Jon Mandle, Global Justice
  30. Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips, Development
  31. Judith Phillips, Care
  32. Michael Saward, Democracy
  33. John Scott, Power
  34. Timothy Sinclair, Global Governance
  35. Anthony D. Smith, Nationalism 2nd Edition
  36. Deborah Stevenson, The City
  37. Stuart White, Equality
  38. Steven Vallas , Work
  1. Capitalism, Geoffrey Ingham
  2. Care, Judith Phillips
  3. Concepts of the Self 2nd Edition, Anthony Elliott
  4. Consumption, Alan Aldridge
  5. Culture, Fred Inglis
  6. Democracy, Michael Saward
  7. Development, Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips
  8. Disability, Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer
  9. Empire, Alejandro Colás
  10. Welfare, Mary Daly
  11. Equality, Stuart White
  12. Ethnicity 2nd Edition, Steve Fenton
  13. Freedom, Katrin Flikschuh
  14. Fundamentalism 2nd Edition, Steve Bruce
  15. Gender 2nd Edition, Harriet Bradley
  16. Global Justice, Jon Mandle
  17. Global Governance, Timothy Sinclair
  18. Governance, Anne Mette Kjær
  19. Health 2nd Edition, Mildred Blaxter
  20. Human Rights, Michael Freeman
  21. Justice, Harry Brighouse
  22. Representation, Mónica Brito Vieira and David Runciman
  23. Liberalism, Paul Kelly
  24. The Market, Alan Aldridge
  25. Mental Ilness, Joan Busfield
  26. Minority Rights, Jennifer Jackson Preece
  27. Nationalism, Anthony D. Smith
  28. Network Society, Darin Barney
  29. The City, Deborah Stevenson
  30. The People, Margaret Canovan
  31. Poverty, Ruth Lister
  32. Power, John Scott
  33. Risk, Jakob Arnold
  34. Time, Barbara Adam
  35. Trust, Russell Hardin
  36. Work, Steven Vallas
  37. Youth, Gill Jones


Forthcoming titles

  1. Richard Bellamy, Constitutionalism
  2. Garrett Wallace Brown, Cosmopolitanism
  3. Craig Calhoun, Community
  4. Ben Colburn, Autonomy
  5. Keith Dowding, Rational Choice
  6. John Gearson, Terrorism
  7. James Gow, War
  8. Bob Jessop, The State
  9. Keith Krause, Security
  10. Chandran Kukathas, Multiculturalism
  11. Barbara Marshall, Sexuality
  12. Cillian McBride, Recognition
  13. Christopher Phillipson, Ageing
  14. Lord Raymond Plant, Citizenship
  15. Hilary Silver, Social Exclusion
  16. Leslie Thiele, Sustainability