Democracy is aimed at representing the views, values, interests and needs of various groups of a given society. Despite its theoretical grounds, the practical application of traditional democracy encounters significant difficulties in addressing marginalized groups. To eliminate such underrepresentation, it is necessary to enable pluralist approach that authorizes the activities of minority organizations, parties, and other institutions that enable the participation of all citizens with different views in the public administration.
Thus, pluralist democracy is an effective way to include marginalized groups into the political decision-making process and pursue the interests of minorities.
A democratic society functions as a well-coordinated mechanism in which all groups’ interests and views are demonstrated through elections. According to Dahl (2005), large-scale democracy requires, among others, free and regular elections, elected officials, and freedom of expression.
However, the history of American elections demonstrates that oftentimes the elected president is chosen not on the basis of a majority but a plurality of voices (Dahl, 1956). Moreover, people who vote for a certain individual or party might fully agree with the proposed ideas. Therefore, even in the conditions of traditional democracy, there are marginalized groups that remain underrepresented.
Under such circumstances, is there a democratic way that might enable meeting the needs of all individuals who are willing to present their particular opinions? In response to such difficulties, the pluralism of ideas in public policies provides minorities with an opportunity to “claim space in the public sphere” (Guidry & Sawyer, 2003, p. 273). When a diverse society’s groups interact in the competition over power, the true meaning of democracy is demonstrated.
The participation of underrepresented groups in the political process is one of the ways of establishing pluralism in a democratic society. This idea might be applied to the research concerning the inclusion of co-curricular activities to veteran students’ education. The implementation of university policies for particular groups of students (such as veterans or others) allows for achieving a higher rate of performance quality throughout the institution and also, as Dahl (2005) points out, preserves the rights of people for freedom of expression and associational autonomy. Thus, effective policies designed for particular groups of population might meet the needs of all people.
In conclusion, despite the idea that democracy enables the representation of the interests of the majority in the leading power, there remain many marginalized social groups that are underrepresented in the government. Pluralist democracy, in its turn, legitimizes the implementation of specific policies and organizations of institutions that address the needs and interests of minorities. In such a way, the true essence of democracy manifested through the contribution of plural opinions to the political process is established.
Dahl, R. A. (1956). American hybrid. In A preface to democratic theory (pp. 124-151). Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Dahl, R. A. (2005). What political institutions does large-scale democracy require? Political Science Quarterly, 120(2), 187-197.
Guidry, J. A., & Sawyer, M. Q. (2003). Contentious pluralism: The public sphere and democracy. Perspectives on Politics, 1(2), 273-289.