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Abstract

Dilemmas of Pluralist Democracy. Autonomy vs. Control' represents the latest installment in Robert Dahl's evolving theory of polyarchal democracy. It is a contribution of considerable interest: in systematically restating and extending the themes that have dominated his work at least since the mid-sixties, this book demonstrates clearly the very considerable distance that Dahl has travelled from benign celebration of American pluralist democracy in such works as A Preface to Democratic TheorY and Who Governs? to increasingly sharp criticism of that regime for its failure to achieve its best potentialities. It is also a contribution of considerable importance, for it invites us to follow Dahl in considering with intellectual precision and rigor some central dilemmas of democratic pluralism. It is a book which powerfully illuminates our understanding of democracy; but it is also a book which fails to pursue some important implications of its own argument, and which remains strategically silent on at least one particularly vexing set of dilemmas.

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