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The Democratic Dilemma


  • 24 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 300 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.61 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 306.2
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: JA76 .L86 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Political socialization
    • Civics

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521584487 | ISBN-10: 0521584485)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published March 1998

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$113.00 (C)

Most citizens seem underinformed about politics. Many experts claim that only well-informed citizens can make good political decisions. Is this claim correct? In The Democratic Dilemma, Professors Lupia and McCubbins combine insights from political science, economics and the cognitive sciences to explain how citizens gather and use information. They show when citizens who lack information can (and cannot) make the same decisions they would have made if better informed. As a result, they clarify the debate about citizen competence.


List of tables and figures; Series editors' preface; Acknowledgements; 1. Knowledge and the foundation of democracy; Part I. Theory: 2. How people learn; 3. How people learn from others; 4. What people learn from others; 5. Delegation and democracy; Part II. Experiments: 6. Theory, predictions and the scientific method; 7. Laboratory experiments on information, persuasion and choice; 8. Laboratory experiments on delegation; 9. A survey on the conditions for persuasion; Part III. Implications for Institutional Design: 10. The institutions of knowledge; Afterword; Appendices; References; Author index; Subject index.

Prize Winner

the 1998 National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research


"The Democratic Dilemma is an impressive treatment of one of the most important issues in democratic theory: the individual's inability to make fully informed decisions. This book shows that rational ignorance and the continuous pursuit of knowledge, are inseparable concepts, with far-reaching implications for the analysis of politics. It redefines the research agenda in democratic theory and information. This book is a must for all students of political institutions." Pablo T. Spiller, University of California, Berkeley

"This book is a must read for anyone interested in the design of democratic institutions." Roberta Romano, Yale Law School

"The Democratic Dilemma does for modern democracy what Aristotle's Rhetoric did for ancient Athens....This combination of classic and modern insight results in a powerful and compelling book." Mark Turner, University of Maryland

"Drawing on rational choice theory, cognitive science, experimental methods, and just plain old fashioned common sense, they develop a tight and compelling argument about information, persuasion, institutions, and democratic performance." Kenneth A. Shepsle, Harvard University

"Lupia and McCubbins have created a powerful, methodoologically sophisticated tool....Graduate collections." Choice

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