Google full text of our books:


What Democracy Is For:
On Freedom and Moral Government
Stein Ringen

Paperback | 2009 | $38.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691141169
336 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 10 tables.
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400831678 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction [HTML] or [PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

In this provocative book, Stein Ringen argues that the world's democracies are failing to live up to their ideals--the United States and Great Britain most especially. The core value of democracy, he contends, is freedom, the freedom to live a good life according to one's own choosing. Yet he shows that democracy's freedom is on the decline. Citizens are increasingly distrustful of political systems weighted by money, and they don't participate in political affairs as they once did. Ringen warns of the risks we face if this trend continues, and puts forth an ambitious proposal for democratic reforms.

The issues that concern him are ones that should concern us all. They include education, poverty, the social and economic roles of families, the lack of democracy in our economic lives, and the need to rejuvenate municipal democracy. Along the way, Ringen proposes policy solutions aimed at restoring democracy, such as universal vouchers for education, substituting the principle of individual insurance for social-welfare pensions, and rethinking how we measure poverty in rich and poor countries. He calls for the revival of local democracy, a democratically grounded global economy, and the protection of political democracy from the transgressions of economic power.

The way to protect democracy is not to cheer it, but to reform it. What Democracy Is For offers a bold defense of democratic ideals, grounded in real reforms.


"This is a hard-hitting, thoughtful and also, for the most part, a hopeful book...argues that progress towards real freedom and real democracy can still be achieved."--Andrew Gamble, Times Literary Supplement

"[B]rings to bear the fruits of a lifetime of hard intellectual work, exploring the social and economic realities of contemporary welfare states--not through their fond self-imaginings or effusive advertisements for themselves, but through their far more erratic capacity to aid their many citizens who still stand in acute need."--John Dunn, Times Higher Education Supplement

"[A] reworking, in accessible and convincing detail, of the insight that the person demanding freedom to indulge unexamined impulses is a slave...a strong and thoughtful argument for putting positive flesh on the skeleton of negative liberty."--John Lloyd, Financial Times

"Ringen compiles an impressive range of data designed to evaluate various dimensions of the political, economic and social life of a number of contemporary democracies."--Martin Leet, Australian Review of Public Affairs

"Political symbols often lose value through their very success, and much work must be done to recapture the engendering experiences to which they point. Ringen . . . is dedicated to doing this work for 'democracy.' . . . [C]learly destined to be a classic."--M. Berheide, Choice

"This is a brilliant book...You may disagree with his arguments, but they have the beauty of transparency."--The Guardian

"[W]ith a tocquevillian inspiration...will easily reach the status of a classic in the literature deepening the great liberal tradition."--Raymond Boudon, Commentaire, France

"[)]ne of Europe's leading social scientists...The book is a model of social science research, analytical, rigorous and full of interesting insights."--Vernon Bogdanor, The Spectator

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
CHAPTER 1: How Good Are the Good Democracies? 13
CHAPTER 2: Is Economic Democracy Available? 48
CHAPTER 3: What Should Welfare States Do? 72
CHAPTER 4: Can We Eradicate Poverty? 111
CHAPTER 5: What Do Families Do? 149
CHAPTER 6: Where Does Freedom Come From? 184
APPENDIX A: The Truth About Class Inequality 239
APPENDIX B: How Good Is the Kindest Democracy? 256
APPENDIX C: What Does a Good Press Look Like? 269
APPENDIX D: The Flat-Tax Issue 277
APPENDIX E: The Basic-Minimum-Income Issue 279
APPENDIX F: The Index Problem 283
APPENDIX G: Social Anchorage 288
References 297
Index 315

This book has been translated into:

  • Turkish
  • Korean

Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Paperback : $38.95 ISBN: 9780691141169

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Paperback  £32.95 ISBN: 9780691141169

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 7/11/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    Political Science And International Relations
    Political Philosophy
    More Choices