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