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Contribution to Book
The Blackwell dictionary of modern social thought
  • William Peter BAEHR, Lingnan University, Hong Kong
Document Type
Dictionary entry
Publication Date
Blackwell Publishers

This is today commonly understood to be a highly oppressive and arbitrary form of rule, established by force or intimidation, which enables a person or group to monopolize political power to the detriment of society at large. However, this very general, almost colloquial definition, captures only one of the term's key meanings. True, ‘dictatorship’ resonates with ideas of illegality, domination, the rule of the Military and totalitarianism. But it has also often been employed in ‘democratic’ settings to characterize, for instance, the ascendancy and might of the executive arm, and the inability of parliament to control it. For this twin meaning to be understood, it is necessary to examine the term's historical roots and context.

Publisher Statement

Copyright ©2003 Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

Additional Information
ISBN of the source publication: 9780631221647
Citation Information
Baehr, P. (2003). Dictatorship. In W. Outhwaite (Ed.), The Blackwell dictionary of modern social thought (2nd ed.) (pp. 162-164). United States: Blackwell Publishers.