Like its practice, democracy is a rich, muddied, and highly contested concept. Many democratic theorists highlight the central role of participation, contestation, and citizenship as core principles (Marshall 1950; Dahl 1971; Pateman 2012).Dryzek reminds us that democracy is “dynamic and open-ended,” which allows for formerly excluded citizens to expand their access to rights, public goods, and deliberative policy-making venues (Dryzek 2000: 29). We showcase the ways that multiple features of democracy contribute to well-being by developing theory that connects participation, citizenship rights, and an inclusive state apparatus to well-being.
The core of this book’s argument is that three democratic pathways – participatory institutions, rights-based social policies, and an inclusive state apparatus – help explain local variation in well-being. Each pathway directly connects core features of democracy to local governance and public goods provision, which in turn contribute to performance surrounding poverty reduction, health care, women’s empowerment, and education.