Democracy and Capitalism
There is a fundamental tension between democracy and
Why does market capitalism favor democracy?
Societies that have market capitalism are the societies that have
Certain features of market capitalism is what makes it favorable
such as private ownership that are fundamentally separate from
Market capitalism seems to have generally social and political
consequences that are favorable to polyarchical democracy.
Market-capitalism has typically led to economic growth; and
economic growth is favorable to democracy. (Cutting poverty and
improving living standards, economic growth helps to reduce
social and political conflicts)
When economic conflicts do arise, growth provides more resources that are available for a mutually satisfactory settlement
in which each side gains something. Growth also provides
individuals, groups and governments with surplus resources to
support education, and thus to foster a literate and educated
4. Dahl says that while market capitalism “greatly favors the
development of democracy up to the level of polyarchical democracy”
it is not favorable to a deepening of “democracy beyond the level of
polyarchy” (p. 178). Explain Dahl’s point, and explain the ways in
which Gaventa’s analysis of power supports this point.
In his 1989 book, Democracy and its critics, Dahl gives the
following characteristics of a polyarchy (p. 233):
. Control over governmental decisions about policy is
constitutionally vested in elected officials.
. Elected officials are chosen and peacefully removed in
relatively frequent, fair and free elections in which coercion
is quite limited. . Practically all adults have the right to vote in these
. Most adults also have the right to run for the public offices
for which candidates run in these elections.
. Citizens have an effectively enforced right to freedom of
expression, particularly political expression, including
criticism of the offic