democratic élitismthe theory that democratic participation in complex modern societies will inevitably be mainly restricted to participation in periodic elections for political leaders. As such, democratic élitism is another term for PLURAL ÉLITISM. The theory of democratic élitism has been challenged by those (for example, Bachrach, 1967) who emphasize the possibility of a ‘developmental participation’ that expands democratic capacities. See also DEMOCRACY, ÉLITE, ÉLITE THEORY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000