Perspectives on Politics

APSA Presidential Address

Participatory Democracy Revisited

Carole Patemana1

a1 University of California, Los Angeles

Over the past two decades we have heard an historically unprecedented volume of talk about and praise of democracy, and many governmental, non-governmental, and international organizations have been engaged in democracy promotion. Democracy is a subject that crosses the boundaries in political science, and within my own field of political theory there has been a major revival of democratic theory. In political theory, argument about “democracy” is usually now qualified by one of an array of adjectives, which include cosmopolitan, agonistic, republican, and monitory. But the new form that has been by far the most successful is deliberative democracy. By 2007 John Dryzek could write that “deliberative democracy now constitutes the most active area of political theory in its entirety (not just democratic theory).” Not only is there an extremely large and rapidly growing literature, both theoretical and empirical, on deliberative democracy, but its influence has spread far outside universities.

Carole Pateman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Political Science Department at UCLA, and Honorary Professor in the School of European Studies, Cardiff University (UK). Her most recent book (with Charles Mills) is Contract and Domination. For other publications see


This is the text of my Presidential Address delivered before the APSA in Seattle, September 2011, which harks back to my first book Participation and Democratic Theory.

Some of the ideas and arguments in this address were presented in 2011 at the UK Political Studies Association meeting, in London, and at the Canadian Political Science Association meeting, in Waterloo, and I am grateful to all the participants. I owe special thanks to Graham Smith and Matt Ryan for their written comments and criticisms, to Ken Carty for sending me a copy of When Citizens Decide, to Ian Greene for supplying me with materials about the Ontario Citizens Assembly, to Rebecca Abers for information about the current state of participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, and to Brian Wampler for answering questions and allowing me to use his data on redistribution in Belo Horizonte. Thank you also to Emily Hallock, Casey Stegman and Karl Striepe for their assistance.