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Robert Alan Dahl (/dɑːl/; December 17, 1915 – February 5, 2014) was a political theorist and Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He established the pluralist theory of democracy—in which political outcomes are enacted through competitive, if unequal, interest groups—and introduced "polyarchy" as a descriptor of actual democratic governance. An originator of "empirical theory" and known for advancing behavioralist characterizations of political power, Dahl's research focused on the nature of decision making in actual institutions, such as American cities.[1][2] He is the most important scholar associated with the pluralist approach to describing and understanding both city and national power structures.[3] In addition to his work on the descriptive theory of democracy, he was long occupied with the formulation of the constituent elements of democracy considered as a theoretical but realizable ideal. By virtue of the exceptional cogency, clarity, and veracity of his portrayal of some of the key characteristics of realizable-ideal democracy, as well as his outstanding descriptive analysis of the dynamics of modern pluralist-democracy, he is one of the greatest theorists of democracy in history.

Dahl received his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in 1936.[4] He then went on to receive his Ph.D. at Yale in 19

Robert Alan Dahl (/dɑːl/; December 17, 1915 – February 5, 2014) was a political theorist and Sterling Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He established the pluralist theory of democracy—in which political outcomes are enacted through competitive, if unequal, interest groups—and introduced "polyarchy" as a descriptor of actual democratic governance. An originator of "empirical theory" and known for advancing behavioralist characterizations of political power, Dahl's research focused on the nature of decision making in actual institutions, such as American cities.[1][2] He is the most important scholar associated with the pluralist approach to describing and understanding both city and national power structures.[3] In addition to his work on the descriptive theory of democracy, he was long occupied with the formulation of the constituent elements of democracy considered as a theoretical but realizable ideal. By virtue of the exceptional cogency, clarity, and veracity of his portrayal of some of the key characteristics of realizable-ideal democracy, as well as his outstanding descriptive analysis of the dynamics of modern pluralist-democracy, he is one of the greatest theorists of democracy in history.

Dahl received his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in 1936.[4] He then went on to receive his Ph.D. at Yale in 1940 and served on its political science faculty from 1946 to 1986. His influential early books include A Preface to Democratic Theory (1956), Who Governs? (1961), and Pluralist Democracy in the United States (1967), which presented pluralistic explanations for political rule in the United States.[5][6] He was elected president of the American Political Science Association in 1966.

In his book, Democracy and Its Critics (1989), Dahl clarifies his view about de

In his book, Democracy and Its Critics (1989), Dahl clarifies his view about democracy. No modern country meets the ideal of democracy, which is as a theoretical utopia.[11] To reach the ideal requires meeting five criteria:[12]

  1. Effective participation
    Citizens must have adequate and equal opportunities to form their preference and place questions on the public agenda and express reasons for one outcome over the other.
  2. Voting equality at the decisive stage
    Each citizen must be assured his or her judgments will be counted as equal in weights to the judgments of others.
  3. Enlightened understanding
    Citizens must enjoy ample and

    Instead, he calls politically advanced countries "polyarchies". Polyarchies have elected officials, free and fair elections, inclusive suffrage, rights to run for office, freedom of expression, alternative information and associational autonomy. Those institutions are a major advance in that they create multiple centers of political power.[13]

    Prizes

    Dahl was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 1995.[6]

    Criticism

    Sociologist G. William Domhoff strongly disagrees with Dahl's

    Dahl was awarded the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science in 1995.[6]

    CriticismSociologist G. William Domhoff strongly disagrees with Dahl's view of power in New Haven, CT in the 1960s.[14]

    BibliographyThe best known of Dahl's works include:

    • Dahl, Robert A.; Lindblom, Charles E. (1953). Politics, Economics, and Welfare.