B.A Program Sem. 3rd Pol Science Theory and Practice of Democracy Important Question with Answer

Part 1: The Origins and Evolution of Democratic Thought 

B.A Program Sem. 3rd Pol Science Theory and Practice of Democracy Important Question with Answer- Our journey begins by exploring the seeds of democratic thought in ancient Greece. We will examine the Athenian democracy, a direct democracy where citizens actively participated in lawmaking and governance. While limited in its scope (excluding women, slaves, and foreigners), Athenian democracy provided the first example of popular rule. We will then analyze the evolution of democratic thought through the Roman Republic, where representative elements emerged alongside a focus on citizenship rights and the rule of law.

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Key Thinkers of Democracy

  • Plato: A critic of Athenian democracy, Plato argued for an ideal republic governed by philosopher-kings. His ideas on justice and the role of the citizen would have lasting influence.
  • Aristotle: While acknowledging the limitations of Athenian democracy, Aristotle saw it as the best form of government for most societies. He emphasized the importance of active citizenship, participation, and the rule of law.

The Rise of Modern Democracy

B.A Program Sem. 3rd Pol Science Theory and Practice of Democracy Important Question with Answer- With the Enlightenment, democratic thought experienced a revival. Thinkers like John Locke, Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau challenged the legitimacy of absolute monarchy and championed individual rights, popular sovereignty, and limited government. The American and French Revolutions put these ideas into practice, establishing representative democracies based on concepts like separation of powers, checks and balances, and universal suffrage (though initially restricted in most cases).

Part 2: Theories of Democracy 

Liberal Democracy

  • Emphasizes individual rights and liberties protected by a constitution.
  • Competitive elections ensure citizen participation and government accountability.
  • Key thinkers like John Locke and John Stuart Mill contributed to this theory.

Participatory Democracy

  • Focuses on maximizing citizen involvement in decision-making processes.
  • Goes beyond voting to include direct democracy mechanisms like referendums and citizen juries.
  • Thinkers like Benjamin Barber advocate for increased citizen participation.

Deliberative Democracy

  • Values reasoned discussion and debate in public decision-making.
  • Aims to achieve consensus through open deliberation and exchange of ideas.
  • Theorists like Jurgen Habermas emphasize the importance of a well-informed citizenry.

Part 3: Institutions and Practices of Democracy 

  • Constitutions: The foundation of democratic governance, outlining the powers and limitations of government and protecting fundamental rights.
  • Elections: The mechanism for selecting representatives and ensuring government accountability to the people.
  • Legislatures: Representative bodies responsible for lawmaking and oversight of the executive branch.
  • Judiciary: An independent body that interprets laws and safeguards individual rights.

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Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Athenian democracy.

Athenian democracy, which emerged in ancient Greece around the 5th century BCE, is often heralded as one of the earliest forms of democratic governance in human history. Its establishment in Athens, a city-state known for its intellectual and cultural achievements, marked a significant departure from earlier forms of governance characterized by monarchies or oligarchies.

Strengths of Athenian Democracy

Political Participation: Athenian democracy encouraged active political participation among its citizens. Unlike modern representative democracies where citizens delegate political decision-making to elected representatives, Athenian citizens directly participated in the decision-making process. They attended assemblies, debated issues, and voted on policies, ensuring a high level of civic engagement and empowerment. B.A Program Sem. 3rd Pol Science Theory and Practice of Democracy Important Question with Answer

Equality and Inclusivity: Athenian democracy, at least in theory, emphasized the principle of equality among citizens. While this equality was limited to male citizens, it represented a departure from earlier systems where power was concentrated in the hands of a select few. Athenian democracy also allowed for the inclusion of a larger portion of the population in political affairs compared to contemporary societies.

Citizen Empowerment: Athenian democracy empowered its citizens by giving them a direct voice in governance. This sense of empowerment fostered a strong civic identity and encouraged citizens to take an active interest in the welfare of the state. Citizens were not merely passive subjects but active participants in shaping the policies and laws that governed their lives.

Trial by Jury: One of the innovations of Athenian democracy was the establishment of a system of trial by jury. Citizens were selected by lot to serve on juries, ensuring a degree of randomness and impartiality in the judicial process. This system helped safeguard against arbitrary rulings and provided a mechanism for resolving disputes fairly. 

Cultural Flourishing: Athenian democracy coincided with a period of remarkable cultural and intellectual flourishing known as the “Golden Age of Athens.” The democratic ethos of Athens fostered an environment conducive to innovation, creativity, and intellectual exchange. This period produced great thinkers, philosophers, playwrights, and artists whose contributions continue to influence Western civilization.

Weaknesses of Athenian Democracy

Exclusion of Non-Citizens: While Athenian democracy granted political rights to its citizens, it excluded a significant portion of the population, including women, slaves, and foreigners. Only adult male citizens who were born in Athens and had completed military training were eligible to participate in the democratic process. This exclusion undermined the principle of equality and perpetuated social hierarchies.

Direct Democracy Challenges: The direct democracy practiced in Athens faced practical challenges due to its reliance on citizen participation. Assemblies often struggled to achieve quorums, and decisions were susceptible to the influence of persuasive orators. Moreover, the direct involvement of citizens in governance required significant time and effort, making it difficult for those engaged in agricultural or commercial pursuits to participate fully.

Tyranny of the Majority: Athenian democracy was vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority, where the interests and rights of minority groups could be disregarded in favor of the preferences of the majority. This tendency was evident in cases of ostracism, where prominent individuals could be banished from the city based on popular vote, often for political reasons rather than legitimate concerns.

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Influence of Wealth and Status: Despite its ideals of equality, Athenian democracy was influenced by wealth and social status. Wealthier citizens had greater opportunities to participate in politics, as they could afford to devote time to public affairs and were more likely to be chosen for leadership positions. This socioeconomic inequality undermined the principle of equal political participation.

Imperialism and Militarism: Athenian democracy coincided with a period of imperialism and militarism, particularly during the reign of Pericles. The Athenian Empire expanded through conquest and colonization, leading to tensions with neighboring city-states and eventually contributing to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. The democratic system enabled aggressive foreign policies that prioritized the interests of the Athenian state over those of its subjects or allies.

Compare and contrast the concepts of citizenship in ancient Greece and the Roman Republic.

How did Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke and Montesquieu contribute to the development of modern democratic theory?

Analyze the role of the American and French Revolutions in shaping democratic practice.

Explain the concept of social contract theory and its relevance to democracy.

Define liberal democracy and discuss its key features.

How does participatory democracy differ from liberal democracy? Explain with examples.

Describe the concept of deliberative democracy and its importance in public decision-making.

Critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of each major theory of democracy.

Discuss the role of political parties in different types of democracies.

Explain the importance of a constitution in a democratic system.

Analyze the role of elections in ensuring government accountability.

Discuss the separation of powers and its significance for democratic governance.

How does an independent judiciary safeguard individual rights in a democracy?

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Identify and explain the challenges faced by democratic practices in the 21st century.

Can democracy promote economic development and social justice? Discuss arguments for and against.

How can democratic principles be applied to international institutions and global governance?

Analyze the rise of populism and authoritarianism as threats to democracy.

Discuss the impact of technology and social media on democratic processes.

What are some possible strategies to ensure the future of democracy in the digital age?

Discuss the relationship between political participation and the health of a democracy.

Critically evaluate a specific case study of democratic backsliding or transition in a particular country.

What are the ethical considerations involved in using social media for political purposes in a democracy?

Imagine you are a political theorist designing a new model of democracy for the 21st century. Describe its key features and how it would address the shortcomings of existing models.


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