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In Democracy�s Voices

In Democracy�s Voices - Diviya Agrawal A Review of...

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Diviya Agrawal 10/22/07 A Review of Democracy’s Voices In Democracy’s Voices: Social Ties and the Quality of Public Life in Spain , Robert M. Fishman describes his theory that a truly efficient and successful democracy is created not only by achieving a polyarchy, but by having effective participation in elections. Effective participation according to Fishman is when citizens engage in meaningful public debates and are given/understand alternative ideas. Polyarchy allows for the potential of a country to have meaningful public debates but does not guarantee it. In this book Fishman refers to the lack of effective participation as “noise in the public arena.” Fishman uses the case of Spain to defend his advocacy of what a true democracy is. A polyarchy is a form of democracy where liberalization (contestation) and participation (inclusiveness) have both been achieved. Liberalization is the easing of repressions or granting the people more rights and freedoms. Participation refers to the types and amount of people who are allowed to vote. When citizens are granted civil liberties as well as the freedom to formulate their own preferences and vote, polyarchy has been achieved. Fishman believes when people are given right to make their political decisions they do not have much to base it on. Their information is limited as media is controlled and other ideas are not broadcasted or not discussed. Fishman believes the relationship between intellectuals and workers is key in having varied and contrasting opinions be openly debated. To test out his theory, Fishman interviewed over 300 leaders of labor in 49 communities with about 25,000 residents in Spain. He used survey
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Diviya Agrawal 10/22/07 A Review of Democracy’s Voices questionnaires and interviews to ask these workers questions such as whether they viewed democracy as the best system, whether they had social ties to intellectuals, and how many if so. Fishman contrasts the two subcultures of Spain: postcommunists and socialists. On the surface, both have similarities such as believing democracy is the most appropriate regime for Spain. The most important differences between the two are that the postcommunists believe that intellectuals have lost interest in workers in the last few decades and that
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