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Democracy is a concept that has its roots in ancient Greece. Since that time, political philosophers have derived a variety of understandings of democracy theories and their normative assessments. It is possible, however, to identify a democratic nucleus that is inherent to all democratic theories. Identifying a core concept of democracy allows us not only to clarify our understanding of democracy but also to locate political communication—its importance and functions—more precisely inside democratic thinking.

The family of democracy theories can be structured along three categories: (1) normative foundation, (2) institutional design, and (3) quality of functioning. The first category refers to certain ideal conceptions and finds its expression in versions such as liberal democracy or social democracy (often discussed as procedural versus substantial forms of democracy), ...

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