Contestation Vs. Participation

637 Words3 Pages
Contestation and participation are often used to describe the two dimensions of democracy. Contestation is in reference to the amount of people and groups that are competing for control of government and participation is in reference to the amount of people that are able to and do in fact vote during election time. For example, in the post revolutionary war in American society, there was a high level of contestation and very low level of participation. The high level of contestation was reflecting the fact that there were many different individuals and groups opting for government control. Additionally, the low level of participation replicates that only white, male property owners were able to cast their vote. Today, Americans’ experience a moderate level of both contestation and participation emulating that only two political parties vie for government control and that not nearly all eligible voters participate in elections. The moderate level of contestation that Americans’ experience today is in comparison to the other levels of contestation around the world. Take for example a dictatorship. This would exemplify an extremely low level of contestation because virtually one person would be competing for government control. On the other hand, after the Revolutionary War, America experienced extremely high levels of contestation. There were a variety of groups and people competing for government control. Because of these comparisons, America maintains an adequate amount of contestation. According to E.E. Schattschneider in his book, The Semisovereign People, the central political fact in a free society is the tremendous contagiousness of conflict (2). This reveals that people enjoy being involved with conflict. In a society such as a dictatorship, conflict among the government is ultimately absent because only one person is able to maintain control. This would
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