Democratic Futures: Re-Visioning Democracy Promotion, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Democratic Futures

Re-Visioning Democracy Promotion, 1st Edition

By Milja Kurki


296 pages

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Democracy promotion has been an influential policy agenda in many Western states and international organisations, and amongst many NGO actors. But what kinds of models of democracy do democracy promoters promote? This book examines in detail the conceptual orders that underpin democracy support activity, and the conceptions of democracy that democracy promoters, consciously or inadvertently, work with. Such an examination is not only timely but much-needed in today’s context of multiple democratic and financial crises. Contestation over democracy’s meaning is returning, but how is this contestation reflected, if at all, in democracy promotion policies and practices?

Seeking to open up debate on multiple models of democracy, this text provides the reader not only with the outlines of various possible politico-economic models of democracy, but also with a close empirical engagement with democracy promoters’ discourses and practices. Drawing on a broad spectrum of examples, it exposes the challenges faced by Western governments in trying to reshape the political and economic landscape across the world and tentatively advances a set of concrete policy provocations which may enable a more pluralist and flexible democracy promotion practice to emerge.

This innovative new work will be essential reading for all students of democratisation, democracy promotion and international relations.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Democracy and contestation: analysing the conceptual foundations of democracy promotion in the context of multiple crises PART I Democracy as a contested concept: surveying politico-economic visions of democracy 2. The contested liberal democratic model: and its multiple variants 3. Challenges to liberal democracy: socialist critics and social democracy 4. Reviving the direct democratic tradition: participatory democracy and radical democracy 5. The poverty of state-based democracy: cosmopolitan models of democracy 6. Orientations towards the empirical study of conceptual orders in democracy promotion  PART II Politico-economic models of democracy in democracy promotion practice 7. Liberal Democracy and its multiple meanings in US democracy promotion (co-authored with Jeff Bridoux) 8. EU: a fuzzy liberal democracy promoter 9. Democracy promotion by non-state actors: alternative models in action?.Chapter 10. International Financial Institutions and democracy promotion Part III Conclusions and policy provocations Chapter 11. Democracy promotion, implicit liberalism and the liberal world order 12. Policy provocations – from a critical perspective Conclusion

About the Author

Milja Kurki is a lecturer at Aberystwyth University and the Principal Investigator of a European Research Council-funded project, Political Economies of Democratisation (2008-2012).

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

  • Jenny Edkins ( and
  • Nick Vaughan-Williams (

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Civics & Citizenship
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / General