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Revista Brasileira de Ciência Política

versão impressa ISSN 0103-3352


MIGUEL, Luis Felipe. Oligarchy, democracy and representation in Michels's thought. Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Polít. [online]. 2014, n.13, pp.137-154. ISSN 0103-3352.

The so-called "elite theory", of which Robert Michels was one of the canonical authors, is a body of doctrine which aims to demonstrate the impossibility of a more democratic and egalitarian social order. It is thus an example of the "futility thesis" discussed by Albert Hirschman, which states that any attempt to change the world is useless. The article argues that, despite this, the "iron law of oligarchy" presented by Michels in 1911 may be appropriate for a reflection committed to the advancement of democracy. Instead of leading to the abandonment of the democratic ideal, it serves as a warning against bastardization of that ideal by the very institutions who claim to implement it, providing tools for a critical analysis of political representation.

Palavras-chave : elite theory; political representation; oligarchy; democracy; Robert Michels.

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