This reader brings together classical and contemporary arguments about pure democracy as opposed to representative government, the role of elites in a democracy, the possibilities for greater popular participation, the relationships between democracy and capitalism and democracy and male domination, and the linkage between majority rule and minority rights. The fundamental conception of this anthology is to treat "democracy" as a contested term. The individual readings, which consist of excerpts from books and previously published essays, ranging from Rousseau to the present day, are grouped into eight sections that cohere around four basic questions: what is democracy?; what practices does it entail?; is government by the people really possible?; and if so, how ?