The Democratic Crisis and the Knowledge Problem

Mickael MELKI, François FACCHINI

This article provides a new explanation for the current democratic crisis by focusing on the growing opposition of citizens to political elites. Modern democracies are basically representative democracies in the sense that citizens are represented by a governing political elite. We argue that democracies are in crisis because this political elite cannot possess the knowledge necessary to manage the complexity of the social order and implement rational choices. They fail in dealing with knowledge and thus cast doubt among citizens on the very legitimacy of democracy. This produces generalized distrust toward elites, who were thought to be able to deal with social complexity. As a result, democracy is considered to be responsible for societal problems while they actually stem from elites' overestimation of their ability to deal with societal complexity.

Publication type: 
Scientific Article
Date de parution: 
Policy and Politics