Democracy and the Policy Sciences

By Peter deLeon

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Public Policy
Paperback : 9780791435489, 172 pages, August 1997
Hardcover : 9780791435472, 172 pages, August 1997

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Table of contents


1. The Democratic Dream


The American Body Politic . . .
. . . And the Study of the Public Sector
Democracy and the Policy Sciences


2. Visions of American Democracy


Democracy in America
Madisonian Democracy
De Tocqueville and American Democracy
Visions of Democracy in Twentieth-Century America
The Case for a Participatory Democracy
In Summary


3. Democratic Foundations of the Policy Sciences


The Utilitarian Tradition
Liberal Rationalism
A Comparison


4. The Policy Sciences for Democracy


Multidisciplinary Approaches
New Policy Research Paradigms
Critical Theory
In Review


5. The Policy Sciences of Democracy: "Two Roads Diverged. .."


An American Democratic Dream
The Critical Policy Sciences
Participatory Policy Analysis
"Two Roads Diverged in a Yellow Wood. .."





Examines how a more democratic, participatory policy analysis could be conceptualized in theory and administered in practice.


As originally proposed by Harold Lasswell, the policy sciences were dedicated to democratic governance. But today they are far removed from the democratic process and do little to promote the American democratic system. This book examines how in the context of American history and the development of the policy sciences, a more democratic, participatory policy analysis could be conceptualized in theory and administered in practice.

Peter deLeon argues that for the policy sciences to move toward democracy, they must accept a new analytic paradigm that draws heavily on critical thinking and the writing of post-positivism. To further that end, he presents a "minipopulist" procedure that will allow more citizen participation without hamstringing the processes of government.

Peter deLeon is Professor of Public Policy in the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado, Denver. He is the author of Thinking About Political Corruption; Advice and Consent: The Development of the Policy Sciences; and The Altered Strategic Environment: Towards the Year 2000.


"I read this book with enthusiasm and enjoyed its review of what's wrong with 'traditional' policy analysis. The author sets out to answer the important question of why the policy analysis process should incorporate more public participation, despite the obvious reasons why such participation might seriously complicate any given policy process. His theoretical framework reexamines the 'great and enduring division in American thought' between the Madisonian (representative) and Tocquevillean (participatory) visions of democracy and then uses this distinction to evaluate the current role of professional elites in the policy process. This creates a rationale for participatory policy analysis and leads to the conclusion that the policy sciences need to reflect greater verisimilitude and empathy. " -- Marie Danziger, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

"The book does a good job setting up--using a wide range of sources--the key issues concerning the relation of the policy sciences to democracy. This relationship is a crucial, cutting-edge issue in policy sciences (and the general field of public policy). " -- Dan Durning, Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia