Democracy: Trap, Tragedy or Crisis?

Christopher Edward Hobson*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    A quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the confidence once surrounding liberal democracy has been replaced with increasing concerns over its health. Reflecting this change of mood, there has been a proliferation of books examining whether democracy may be in crisis. This review surveys some of these recent contributions, which are united by a much more pessimistic tone. As these books detail, democracy now confronts major problems in essentially every sphere, with changes in the economic realm arguably being the most consequential. Rather than theorising more expansive forms of democracy, the challenge increasingly seems to be one of holding onto what we already have. Brown W (2015) Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. New York: Zone books. Coggan P (2013) The Last Vote: The Threats to Western Democracy. London: Allen Lane. Dunn J (2013) Breaking Democracy’s Spell. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Johnston S (2015) American Dionysia: Violence, Tragedy, and Democratic Politics. New York: Cambridge University Press. Kurlantzick J (2013) Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Mair P (2013) Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy. London: Verso. Runciman D (2013) The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-45
    Number of pages8
    JournalPolitical Studies Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Feb 1


    • crisis
    • democracy
    • democratic theory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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