chapter  1
25 Pages

Introduction

Can democracy remedy social challenges? As Amartya Sen makes clear above, democracy on its own cannot solve all problems. While democracy presents an opening for representation, more is required to capture the benefi ts of democratic governance to meet the needs of citizens. The question is how the benefi ts of democracy may be capitalized on to create progress in solving deep-rooted social problems. The traditional institutions of representative democracy-executives, legislatures, and courts-bring order to policy making and may provide accountability and responsiveness through elections and laws. But, despite the impressive growth of democracy in developing countries over the last two decades, poverty, inequality, and continued cynicism about democracy provide reasons to think that elections and associated democratic institutions fail to engage important segments of the population. While democratic institutions seem to be thoroughly entrenched, more work lies ahead if democratic governance is to address longstanding social challenges.