Ethics & International Affairs


Global Democratization: Soup, Society, or System?

John S. Dryzek*

Ideas about the presence, absence, and growth of democracy in global politics take different forms. After surveying the basic justifications for global democracy, three frames for making sense of the significance of particular developments and proposals are canvassed. “Soup” involves the proliferation of democratic practices, though the consequences of this proliferation for the overall shape of international politics remain open. “Society” stresses the democratization of processes that affect constitutive norms and discourses. “System” identifies differentiated yet ordered parts, geared to the production of collective outcomes. The soup framing is undemanding yet limited. System provides a way to pinpoint democratic deficiencies and possibilities, but its requirements can be highly demanding, and it leaves open the question of normative integration. Understanding global democratization requires both society and system framings.

John S. Dryzek is Australian Research Council Federation Fellow and Professor of Political Science in the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance at the Australian National University. His recent books include Theories of the Democratic State (2009, with Patrick Dunleavy), Foundations and Frontiers of Deliberative Governance (2010), and The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society (2011, co-edited with David Schlosberg and Richard Norgaard).


* An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Conference on Democracy and the Deliberative Society, University of York, June 24–26, 2009. For comments I thank Selen Ayirtman, Christopher Hobson, Hayley Stevenson, and the anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship.