ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Models of Liberal Democracy

Waves of Democracy, Social Movements and Political Change by John Markoff; Thousand Oaks, Pine Forge Press, California, 1996; pp 174, $ 17.95.
THIS is obviously a textbook written by an American for American sociology students. It is meant to enable students to broaden their vision and become less Americo- centric, by introducing them to comparative phenomenon and by giving them a transnational perspective. Text books are difficult to review, they are careful, neat and unbearably systematic and systematised. They avoid grey areas in the concept, they avoid troublesome debates, they avoid problematising crucial issues. The focus of a textbook writer is, after all, to offer uncluttered categories with which the student can make sense of the world, or rather of the issue on offer. Since the main constituency is the student body, and since students contrary to the expectalions of many teachers are not interested in learning how to ask questions they would rather look for answers textbooks neatcn the messy world of politics, and the untidy world of the social sciences, littered as they are by debates galore. By categorising, clarifyingand straightening out this disorderly world, textbook writers bring orderout of chaos. I personally wonder if most students would rather not have a textbook writer as their teacher, a teacher who can answer every question, even those questions which may never be asked, rather than a teacher who in the manner of Rodin's thinker contemplates the world in an endless search for knowledge. This is a problem that teachers, including me, have to think out.

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