Groups, representation and democracy

Between promise and practice

By Darren Halpin

Groups, representation and democracy


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-8477-9696-7
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: July 2013
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, Society & social sciences / International relations, Politics, Political structures: democracy, International relations, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
  • Series: Perspectives on Democratic Practice


Whether called pressure groups, NGOs, social movement organisations or organised civil society, the value of 'groups' to the policy process, to economic growth, to governance, to political representation and to democracy has always been contested. However, there seems to be a contemporary resurgence in this debate largely centred on their democratising potential: can groups effectively link citizens to political institutions and policy processes? Are groups an antidote to emerging democratic deficits? Or do groups themselves face challenges in demonstrating their legitimacy and representativeness?

This book debates the democratic potential and practice of groups; focussing on the vibrancy of internal democracies, and modes of accountability with those who join such groups and to the constituencies they advocate for. It draws on literatures covering national, European and global levels, and presents new empirical material from the UK and Australia


1. Groups as agents of democracy?
2. Interest group aliases: towards definitional commensurability?
3. Democratic expectations: the representation account
4. Between representation and solidarity: (re)calibrating democratic expectations
5. Democratic promises and practices: some empirical evidence
6. The orthodox case: the drift from representation towards solidarity
7. Making Olson work: rejuvenating 'supply-side' explanations
8. Are 'protest businesses' contemporary phenomenon?
9. Democratic transformation: fulfilling the promise of representation
10. Between promise and practice


Darren R. Halpin is Professor in Public Policy at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen

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