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Protest and DissentNOMOS LXII$
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Melissa Schwartzberg

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479810512

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479810512.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 13 April 2021

Are Protests Good or Bad for Democracy?

Are Protests Good or Bad for Democracy?

Chapter:
(p.269) 10 Are Protests Good or Bad for Democracy?
Source:
Protest and Dissent
Author(s):

Susan Stokes

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479810512.003.0011

Theorists disagree with one another about whether protests have beneficial or nefarious effects on democracy. I argue that protests can act as a corrective to several flaws in electoral democracy as a mechanism of representation and accountability. Protests can open participation to non-citizens and semi-citizens. They can introduce greater equality of citizen influence on governments. And they can help circumvent problems of voter myopia and of the multidimensionality of issues in elections. These beneficial effects are balanced against some threats to democratic practices of protests which critics correctly identify: their weakness as forums for deliberation, their potential to thwart legislation and actions of representative institutions, and their potential to oust elected governments. It’s unimaginable that a free society would ban protests; but organizers should consider ways of improving the deliberative quality of demonstrations and refrain from interrupting what may be delicate electoral equilibria.

Keywords:   protests, elections, democracy, democratic theory, citizen, political equality

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