Prospects for the Expansion of Democratic Pluralism

In Friederich M. Zimmermann & Susanne Janschitz (eds.), Regional Policies in Europe: Soft Features for Innovative Cross-Border Cooperation. Leykam Publishers:125-134 (2004)
Abstract
Pluralism is an essential feature of liberal democratic theory and practice and rests upon the fundamental value of tolerance. Today, commitment to various forms of constitutional representative democracy appears to be widespread, and globilization has diminished the political, economic, and cultural significance of borders to some degree. But concurrently, in a trend which seems to have accelerated since the end of the Cold War, there has been a marked increase in many areas around the world of conflict, tormoil, and violence rooted in ethnic, religious, and regional identities. This trend, a sort of 21st century balkanization, is a serious threat to pluralism. This chapter defines pluralism and argues for its advantages. It also presents an argument against one influential approach to handling identity-based activities and claims, which advocates recognition of special group rights and privileges. The chapter concludes with the proposal of conditions conducive to the well-being and expansion of pluralism, and with suggestions for the kinds of public policies likely to foster such conditions.
Keywords democratic pluralism  identity-based politics  group rights
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