Paradoxes of Democracy is an essay on the inherent weaknesses and surprising strengths of democratic government by one of the most productive and learned scholars in the social sciences.

Shmuel Eisenstadt opens with observations on divergent theories of democracy and closes with a discussion of mechanisms by which democratic regimes incorporate into their own structures the movements of protest that seem to challenge their existence. In between he courses through the roots of democratic theory in modern culture, the contradictions and tensions prompted by those roots, and some of the historical manifestations of contradiction. Eisenstadt focuses on the most important conditions—especially on different patterns of collective identity—which influence the extent to which democratic regimes are able to incorporate themes of protest and social movements and thus ensure their common survival.


Introduction: The Problem

1. Constitutional and Participatory Conceptions of Democracy

2. The Historical Roots of Constitutional Democratic Regimes

3. The Cultural and Political Programs of Modernity: Basic Premises

4. The Cultural Program of Modernity: Antinomies, Tensions, Contradictions, and Criticisms

5. The Political Program of Modernity: Tensions Between Pluralistic and Jacobin Tendencies

6. The Political Process in Modern Societies: Protest Movements and the Redefinition of the Political

7. Social Movements in Modern Constitutional Regimes

8. The Challenge of Incorporating Protest: The Non-Zero-Sum Game Conception of Politics and the Structuring of Trust in Modern Societies

9. Tendencies to Deconsolidaiton of Democracy in Contemporary Societies


“A welcome reminder that constitutions have to survive in the face of incalculable changes.”—Jeremy Waldron, Times Literary Supplement

“A tour de force of the highest order and addresses itself to one of the hottest market areas of the field, to students of democracy in sociology, political science, and history of ideas.… An extraordinarily impressive book on all accounts.”—Zoltán Tarr, Contemporary Sociology