Frederick Schaffer, Democracy in Translation. Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture (1998), Chapter 1.

== Summary ==

* There is another reading – democracy and demokaraasi that I think captures this better from the African Politics Section

[[Schaffer, Frederic Charles. (1998). Democracy in Translation: Understanding Politics in an Unfamiliar Culture. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. (chapter 5, pp. 116-138)]]

 

Summary: Democracy is not simply institutions, as the Schumpetarians argue.  Ideals are important to any analysis.  Dahl proposes examining ideals of democracy first, and then assessing the success/failure of the electoral institutions in achieving them.  Schaffer reverses this, and instead looks to how electoral systems can support different ideals in the populations of different countries. Drawing on language philosophy, Schaffer examines the meanings of democracy for French and Wolof speaking Senegalese.

 

== Notes ==

=== The Schumpeterian Solution ===

* What, exactly, is democracy? Hard term to pin down

* Schumpeter focuses only on institutional aspects – which has proved to be quite enduring due to ease of operationalization – this approach is also known as electoralism.

 

=== The Limits of Electoralism ===

* There are definite limits to electoralism, especially in developing countries where formal institutions are embraced without the societies being democratic in any substantial way

* Can you speak of electoral institutions without the ideals to which they are oriented?

* Looking at electoral institutions presupposes an idea of what democracy is, thus it is crucial to take into account the ideal aspects of democracy in order to do a proper empirical study of democracy

 

=== Dahls Circle-Closing Solution ===

* Posits ideals of democracy and then determines whether, and which, electoral and nonelectoral arrangements have been successful in approximating or securing these democratic ideals.

 

=== An Alternative Circle-Closing Strategy ===

* Schaffer instead starts with institutions

* \”it seems important to ask whether voters might use electoral arrangements to achieve ideals that diverge from, or only partially overlap with, ideals generally considered democratic by Americans

 

=== Conceptual Analysis ===

* Aim is to identify the range of ideals toward which electoral institutions in different societies might be oriented

* To learn what the word democracy means is to learn not only a piece of the English language, but also standards for calling something a democracy

 

=== Everyday English and Ideals of Democracy ===

* Everyday usage (in the US) is simply an extension of familiar understandings of democracy

* Identifies three dimensions of democracy

** Participation

** Equality

** Choice

 

=== The Comparative Study of Concepts ===

* Problematic to translate local words for democracy into the concept of democracy that is held by Americans

 

=== Senegal: Situating the Case Study ===

* Democracy (except 1960-1974) – long history of electoral politics

* Citizens are well acquainted with electoral institutions

 

=== Methods ===

* Comparison of how the Senegalese and the Americans understand the concept by which they refer to electoral institutions