Dictionary of Arguments

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Mause I 64f
Democratic Theory/Schumpeter: For almost three decades, international democracy theory has been shaped by two books written by economists: Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy by Joseph A. Schumpeter (1942) (1) and An Economic Theory of Democracy by Anthony Downs (1957 (2). In the history of theory there are only a few works on economic democracy theory (cf. the works of Brian Barry 1970) (3).
Method/Schumpeter: Method transfer: Schumpeter conceives democracy in analogy to the market, but not yet with neoclassical methodology. The central elements of his economic theory - the creative entrepreneur and competition - are transposed into the political sphere. Schumpeter's elite theory of democracy is thus shaped by his economic theory. For him, democracy is only one method by means of which political elites competing for power can be elected and voted out of office. It no longer has intrinsic value, but is only a means to an end - for the selection of political elites. In summary, the central task of a realistic theory of democracy is "to adequately recognize the vital fact of leadership" (4).
N.B.: the personnel of the elite is determined by rivalry and competition.
Problem: Schumpeter himself sees weaknesses in this analogy: the quality of personnel cannot be determined as precisely by choice as in the case of goods.
I 65
Democratic Theory/Schumpeter: Thesis: Democracy should be reduced to a method of electing or replacing competing elites without bloodshed. See also Democratic Theory/Sartori, Democratic Theory/Pateman.
PatemanVsSchumpeter: this is a fatal logic of argumentation: citizens do not meet the normative expectations of classical theory, and therefore democratic participation must be reduced to a minimum in order to not endanger democracy.


Gary S. Schaal, “Carole Pateman, Participation and Democratic Theory” in: Manfred Brocker (ed.) Geschichte des politischen Denkens. Das 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2018



1. J. A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, socialism, and democracy. New York 1942. [dt. Kapitalismus, Sozialismus und Demokratie. Tübingen/ Basel 2005.
2. A. Downs, An economic theory of democracy. New York 1957; [dt. Ökonomische Theorie der Demokratie. Tübingen 1968.
3.B. Barry, Sociologists, economists, and democracy. Chicago 1970.
4. Schumpeter, ebenda, deutsch, S. 429.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

EconSchum I
Joseph A. Schumpeter
The Theory of Economic Development An Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle, Cambridge/MA 1934
German Edition:
Theorie der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung Leipzig 1912

Mause I
Karsten Mause
Christian Müller
Klaus Schubert,
Politik und Wirtschaft: Ein integratives Kompendium Wiesbaden 2018


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