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1. What is Democracy?
About this Lecture
In this module we explore the origins of democracy and its importance to the modern UK, focusing in particular on: (i) popular control: the notion that government actions are rendered legitimate by the consent – tacit or explicit – of the people; (ii) equality: the notion that all citizens should hold the same political rights and enjoy equal opportunities to participate in the democratic community. This formulation for understanding democracy will structure our discussion over the coming lectures and give us a foundation from where we might assess how democratic the UK really is in practice.
In this course, Professor Andrew Blick (KCL) asks how truly democratic the UK is in practice. In the first lecture, we explore the origins of democracy and its importance to the modern UK, orienting our discussion around two aspects of democracy: popular control and equality. In the second lecture, we explore the all-important question of participation in a representative democracy. In the third lecture, we consider the role of civil and political rights in a democracy and the extent to which these rights are met in the UK. The fourth lecture is structured around an interrogation of the theory and practice of parliamentary sovereignty, involving structural and institutional considerations such as devolution, referendums, and the First Past the Post electoral system. In the fifth lecture, we explore the extent to which the uncodified or “unwritten” UK Constitution has an impact on how democratic the UK is in practice and consider the case for reform. Then, in the sixth and final lecture, we turn to the hotly debated subject of media and communications and the impact of this on democracy.
Professor Andrew Blick has extensive experience working for think tanks in the UK Parliament and as an administrative assistant at No.10 Downing Street. He has advised democratic reform groups working in countries including Iran, Pakistan, Turkey and Ukraine; and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm. From 2010-15 he was research fellow to the first ever parliamentary inquiry into the possibility of introducing a written constitution for the UK, carried out by the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. In 2021 he began participation in an AHRC-funded project assessing the history of democracy from ancient times to the contemporary era, through considering written primary sources. He recently published ‘Electrified Democracy: the Internet and the United Kingdom Parliament in history’.
Cite this Lecture
Blick, A. (2022, January 18). How Democratic is the UK? - What is Democracy? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/how-democratic-is-the-uk/what-is-democracy
Blick, A. "How Democratic is the UK? – What is Democracy?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 18 Jan 2022, https://massolit.io/courses/how-democratic-is-the-uk/what-is-democracy